NEW YORK: Worries about economic growth prospects hit global stock markets on Friday, causing sharp price drops on both sides of the Atlantic.
In bloodletting on Wall Street, US stocks suffered their worst day since early January.
The closely watched “yield curve” flashed a warning sign that a recession could be looming while monthly US, French and German manufacturing indices all fell — rattling investors who were already uneasy after this week’s surprisingly weak outlook from the Federal Reserve.
“A series of worse-than-expected economic releases from Europe have sounded the alarm bell not just for the bloc, but also the global economy, by providing further evidence of a worldwide slowdown in economic activity,” said XTB analyst David Cheetham.
The so-called yield curve, which tracks the spread between short- and longer-term rates on US Treasury bonds, briefly inverted on Friday, with yields on three month bonds falling below those for 10-year notes — the first time this had happened since before the global financial crisis in 2007.
The yield curve is closely watched since it has inverted prior to recessions in recent decades.
But Justin Lederer, interest rates strategist at Cantor Fitzgerald, told AFP the flip was not caused for so much alarm.
“The yield curve inversion reveals more what is going on in the global landscape, the fact that global growth is slowing down,” he said.
“I don’t think it is an immediate signal that a recession is approaching.”
Also weighing on the benchmark Dow Jones Industrial Average were poor showings for Boeing and Nike, which fell 2.8 percent and 6.6 percent.
An Indonesian air carrier on Friday became the first to announce it was canceling a multi-billion-dollar order of 737 MAX aircraft in the wake of recent fatal crashes in which nearly 350 people perished.
In foreign exchange, sterling rose again after Brussels gave Britain a Brexit deadline extension.
Signs of a weak first quarter for the eurozone also mounted on Friday as a closely-watched survey pointed to March output being dragged further down by manufacturing weakness, especially in Germany, Europe’s largest economy.
The German data were “shockingly bad”, said Angel Talavera, an economist with Oxford Economics, and “a timely reminder that the European industrial sector continues to be dominated by worries and potential negative shocks, including the outcome of the Brexit negotiations, trade concerns and problems in the auto industry.”
The pound, however, pushed higher one day after European Union leaders agreed at a crucial summit to delay Brexit following a request from Prime Minister Theresa May.
If the premier fails next week to push her divorce agreement through a fractious parliament that has already rejected the deal twice, Brexit will take place on April 12, unless London agrees to take part in European elections.
If May manages to get the deal passed, the exit date will be pushed back until May 22.
Britain had been due to crash out of the bloc next Friday.
“Sterling remains very volatile as EU leaders have moved to stop a chaotic no-deal Brexit from happening next week by handing Theresa May an extra fortnight,” said Oanda analyst Craig Popplewell.
The world’s main oil contracts also fell sharply, as a softer economy would likely lead to less demand for fossil fuel.
Key figures around 2130 GMT:
New York – DOW: DOWN 1.8 percent at 25,502.32 (close)
New York – S&P: DOWN 1.9 percent at 2,800.71(close)
New York – Nasdaq: DOWN 2.5 percent 7,642.67 (close)
London – FTSE 100: DOWN 2.0 percent at 7,207.59 points (close)
Frankfurt – DAX 30: DOWN 1.6 percent at 11,364.17 (close)
Paris – CAC 40: DOWN 2.0 percent at 5,269.92 (close)
EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 1.8 percent at 3,305.73 (close)
Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3210 from $1.3107 at 2100 GMT on Thursday
Euro/pound: DOWN at 85.59 pence from 86.77 pence
Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1306 from $1.1374
Dollar/yen: DOWN at 109.93 yen from 110.82 yen
Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 0.1 percent at 21,627.34 (close)
Hong Kong – Hang Seng: UP 0.1 percent at 29,113.36 (close)
Shanghai – Composite: UP 0.1 percent at 3,104.15 (close)
Oil – Brent Crude: DOWN 94 cents at $66.32 per barrel
Oil – West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 83 cents at $58.42
China welcomes Imran Khan’s attendance in 2nd BRF in Beijing
BEIJING: China Tuesday welcomed Prime Minister Imran Khan’s attendance in the second Belt and Road Forum scheduled for April 25-27 and termed China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as highly demonstrative project and set a good example for other projects under Belt and Road Initiative.
“We welcome Prime Minister Imran Khan’s attendance in the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said during his routine briefing held here.
He remarked that with concerted efforts of both China and Pakistan, the CPEC, a flagship project of Belt and Road Initiative has delivered many tangible benefits to the people of two countries with concrete outcomes.
“We have every confidence to work with Pakistan to promote greater progress in this project to deliver greater benefits to our people,” he added.
The spokesperson observed that the CPEC was a highly demonstrative project and it set a good example for other projects under the Belt and Road Initiative.
Prime Minister Imran Khan, at the invitation of Chinese President, Xi Jinping, is scheduled to participate in the second edition of Belt and Road Forum.
He will be accompanied by a high-level delegation comprising federal ministers and other senior officials.
On the first day of the forum, he will attend the inaugural session of the forum and deliver a keynote speech at the plenary meeting of high-level dialogue.
He will also attend the state banquet to be hosted by President Xi Jinping in the honour of world leaders attending the BRF.
The prime minister along with other world leaders will attend the leaders’ roundtable sessions on the second day of the forum.
Pakistan highly values its ties with China: Hafeez Shaikh
ISLAMABAD: Yao Jing, Ambassador of People’s Republic of China, called on Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs in Islamabad on Monday.
Both sides discussed matters of bilateral interest and underscored the need for enhanced collaboration between the two countries in the areas of mutual benefit.
The Adviser informed the Ambassador that Pakistan highly values its ties with China, which is a sincere friend and has always supported Pakistan in difficult times.
He said that environment in Pakistan for foreign investment was conducive and Chinese businessmen should benefit from it to make investment in various sectors.
He conveyed that the government would facilitate Chinese investors by providing them all possible support to invest in Pakistan. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh deeply appreciated China’s role in the social and economic development of Pakistan.
Appreciating the steps taken by government of Pakistan for revival of economy, the Ambassador said that the Chinese investors wanted to invest in Pakistan and their confidence over the policies and leadership of Pakistan is getting increased.
He reiterated his government’s resolve to continue its support for early execution of various projects under CPEC.
The Ambassador also congratulated Abdul Hafeez Shaikh on assuming the portfolio of Adviser. The meeting discussed the forthcoming visit of the Prime Minister of Pakistan to China and expressed the hope that the visit would further strengthen the existing multifaceted relations between the two neighbours.
Pak-China FTA to be signed on 28th April
ISLAMABAD: Ambassador of China to Pakistan Yao Jing on Monday said that the Sino-Pak Free Trade Agreement (FTA) Phase II would be signed on 28th April.
Other important CPEC- related agreements will also be signed during China visit of the PM. He said the FTA had been finally concluded after eight years of negotiations and it would be inked by the commerce ministers of two countries during the visit of Pakistani prime minister.
Under the FTA-Phase II, Jing said, China would provide market access to 90% of Pakistani commodities at zero rated duty, while Pakistan would give China market access to 65% tariff lines.
He was addressing a press briefing here at the Chinese Embassy on the upcoming Second Belt and Road Forum to be held in Beijing from 25-27 April. The ambassador said world leaders, including heads of state and government from 37 countries, would attend the Forum’s roundtable summit, but Pakistan being a major partner of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) was the most important of all.
“The Chinese Prime Minister and President are looking forward to the visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan to China where he will also hold bilateral meetings with the Chinese leadership to build more consensus on bilateral trade ties,” he added. The Chinese envoy pointed out that China wanted a more prosperous and developed Pakistan as what he said without sustainable development in the neighboring countries, China could not sustain its development.
He said under the CPEC’s industrial cooperation, the first Special Economic Zone (SEZ) at Rashakai was going to be inaugurated during the current month where 20 factories would be set up initially. He assured that employment in the SEZs would be given to the local people and the latest technology would be transferred from China to Pakistan.
Cooperation in industrial and social sectors would be the main focus of the second phase of CPEC, he added. “There are six areas in the social sector, including education, health, agriculture, water, irrigation, and poverty alleviation in which around 26 new projects will be initiated in Pakistan,” he said.
The ambassador said two model villages would be built in Pakistan under the social sector cooperation of CPEC to uplift the living standard of low-income segments of the society. He said China was basically an agricultural country and it started its development journey with bringing reforms in the agriculture sector. It would now help Pakistan in revolutionizing its agricultural sector by linking it with the state of the art technology.
With respect to the multi-billion Railway ML1 project, the envoy said as its technical aspects had already been finalized, the project would hit the ground soon. He also invited the neighboring countries to become part of the mega-project as it was not only beneficial to China and Pakistan but also for the whole region. To a question, Jing said 11 out of 22 projects had already been completed while the work on the remaining was going fast. In total $19 billion had been invested by China on all the projects, $13 billion lent as commercial loans and $6 billion as a concessionary loan to be repaid by the Pakistani government in 25-30 years.
To a query regarding the Karachi Circular Railway, the Chinese envoy said the two sides were working on its financial model. Many options of the financial model, including build-operate-transfer (BOT), loaning, and financing from own resources, were under consideration, he added. Regarding investment in Gilgit-Baltistan, Yao Jing said China was eager to upgrade and develop tourists sites in the area to provide facilities to local as well as foreign tourists.