Shanghai index steadies but China fears still stalk markets

AP News
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Posted: Jan 05, 2016 8:22 AM
Shanghai index steadies but China fears still stalk markets

LONDON (AP) — Global stock markets were weighed down by worries over the Chinese economy even though the country's benchmark index stabilized Tuesday, a day after plunging nearly 7 percent.

KEEPING SCORE: In Europe, Germany's DAX was down 0.5 percent at 10,232 while France's CAC-40 fell 0.3 percent to 4,506. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares bucked the trend to trade 0.2 percent higher at 6,104. Wall Street was poised for a lower opening, with Dow futures and the broader S&P 500 futures pointing to a 0.5 percent retreat at the bell.

CHINA FEARS: On Monday, the first trading of the year, the Shanghai Composite Index slumped 6.9 percent following some further disappointing indicators for the world's number 2 economy. Investors around the world took fright, and stock markets were hit hard. On Tuesday, the selling in Shanghai abated, likely helped by a reported liquidity injection by the People's Bank of China. As a result, markets largely stabilized in Europe.

ANALYST TAKE: "There are still worries about the stability of the Chinese economy and the ability of the rest of the global economy to come to terms with the new China, one that no longer looks to double digit GDP growth as the norm," said James Hughes, chief market analyst at online broker GKFX. "Markets haven't coped well with this up to now, and I think we are likely to see more in the way of volatility when big numbers break, even if they don't stray too far from expectations."

OIL WORRIES: China's not the only worry facing investors as the new year gets going. Tensions in the Middle East have also caused concern, in particular the nosedive in relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Over the weekend, Saudi severed diplomatic ties with Iran in a dispute over the Saudis' execution of a Shiite cleric. Concerns over what that may presage for world oil supplies supported oil prices on Monday. On Tuesday, a barrel of benchmark New York crude was down 0.3 percent at $36.65 a barrel while a barrel of Brent crude, the international standard, fell 0.5 percent to $37.04.

EUROZONE INFLATION: One repercussion of low oil prices over the past year or so has been to keep a lid on inflation around the world. On Tuesday, a new report showed that inflation across the 19-country eurozone in the year to December remained low at 0.2 percent. The European Central Bank targets an inflation rate of just below 2 percent and has enacted a series of stimulus packages to push up prices. Analysts said the subdued inflation may prompt the bank to consider doing more in the months ahead and that has weighed on the euro currency, which was down 0.7 percent at $1.0750.

ASIA'S DAY: The more stable performance in Shanghai helped calm the mood across Asia but it was largely another down-day across the region. Japan's Nikkei 225 closed down 0.4 percent at 18,374.00 while Australia's S&P/ASX 200 fell 1.6 percent to 5,184.40. Hong Kong's Hang Seng was down 0.7 percent to 21,188.72 but South Korea's Kospi outperformed its peers, ending the day 0.6 percent higher at 1,930.5.