LONDON: European stock markets slid Wednesday as record-high eurozone inflation fanned fears that more interest rate hikes could herald recession.
Frankfurt, London and Paris stocks all dropped as data showed eurozone inflation hit 9.1 percent in August on surging fuel prices, raising pressure on the European Central Bank to tighten its monetary policy.
Wall Street’s main stock indices were lower in late morning trading, while most Asian markets closed lower on concerns the US Federal Reserve’s rate-hiking policy would send the world’s biggest economy into recession.
Meanwhile, oil prices fell on demand jitters as China imposes further pandemic restrictions, and the possibility a deal on Iran’s nuclear programme could unlock crude exports.
“Traders aren’t just ready to back riskier assets and losing their appetite for them because there are concerns about the Fed’s hawkish monetary policy,” said Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst for Markets.com.
“The data from the EU has confirmed that inflation is moving in one direction only, and the ECB has a long way to go before it can put a leash on inflation,” he said.
The ECB is set to lift borrowing costs next week, having increased them in July for the first time in a decade to help tackle rampant inflation.
– Recession risk –
“The reality is that a more aggressive (ECB) tightening is going to be needed, and when the economy is already as fragile as it is, the situation quickly starts to look quite problematic,” OANDA analyst Craig Erlam told AFP.
“That’s not good for stocks as it’s extremely difficult for companies to prosper if the bloc is in a deep recession made worse by higher interest rates, which is now a real risk.”
Major central banks are rushing to contain runaway consumer price inflation that has largely been prompted by fallout from key energy supplier Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
State energy giant Gazprom suspended gas deliveries to Germany on a major pipeline on Wednesday.
It was the latest in a series of supply halts that have fuelled Europe’s energy crisis and sent gas and electricity prices soaring before the peak-demand winter.
European gas prices, however, fell on Wednesday after flirting with a record high last week.
Markets have struggled since Fed chief Jerome Powell warned last Friday that the US central bank would need to tighten policy much more to tackle sky-high inflation.
“Inflation remains the key issue, with commentary from both the Fed and ECB serving to highlight the fact that controlling prices will remain the central target irrespective of economic suffering,” IG analyst Joshua Mahony told AFP.
“A drawn out period of higher costs, higher wages, and lower demand point towards further downside for equity markets,” he noted.
Traders are now awaiting the release of US job-creation figures on Friday for a better idea about the state of the economy.
– Key figures at around 1530 GMT –
New York – Dow: DOWN 0.3 percent at 31,689.95 points
EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 1.3 percent at 3,517.25
London – FTSE 100: DOWN 1.1 percent at 7,284.15 (close)
Frankfurt – DAX: DOWN 0.7 percent at 12,873.48 (close)
Paris – CAC 40: DOWN 1.4 percent at 6,125.10 (close)
Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.4 percent at 28,091.53 (close)
Hong Kong – Hang Seng Index: FLAT at 19,954.39 (close)
Shanghai – Composite: DOWN 0.8 percent at 3,202.14 (close)
Euro/dollar: UP at $1.0074 from $1.0015 on Tuesday
Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.1643 from $1.1656
Euro/pound: UP at 86.45 pence from 85.92 pence
Dollar/yen: DOWN at 138.61 yen from 139.00 yen
West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 1.4 percent at $90.32 per barrel
Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 2.6 percent at $96.72 per barrel