Stock markets downbeat on growth concerns; oil down

AFP – Stock markets mostly fell Thursday on concerns about an uncertain global economic outlook amid lingering disquiet about the China-US trade war.

Wall Street rose just barely out of the red following remarks from a top Federal Reserve policymaker who reiterated the signal that the US central bank was likely to cut interest rates later this month.

The speech New York Federal Reserve President John Williams also sent US Treasury yields lower and weakened the dollar.

Earlier in the day, there were few catalysts to drive buying in other markets and investors were cashing out, analysts said, as the expected Fed rate cut is already priced in.

Meanwhile, Britain’s official forecast said Thursday the nation would slide into a year-long recession should it leave the European Union without a deal on future economic relations.

Market analyst Fawad Razaqzada remarked that concern about the global economy has been offset so far by indications from central banks that they will step in if needed to support growth.

“But unless growth starts to pick up, central banks’ actions will only help to delay the inevitable: a sizeable correction,” he predicted.

US corporate earnings season has featured mixed results.

Shares in Netflix fell more than 10 percent after quarterly earnings, released after the close on Wednesday, showed weaker-than-expected subscriber growth.

Tokyo led stock market losses, sinking two percent as it was hit by a stronger yen and data showing another drop in exports owing to falling demand and global trade uncertainty.

Energy firms tracked their US counterparts lower following another steep drop in oil prices Wednesday that came after government data showing a pick-up in US gasoline inventories.

The figures represent the weakest demand in five years, analysts said.

“Gasoline consumption is painfully weak given US consumers are in peak driving season, which will be invariably seen as the Grim Reaper of sorts,” said Stephen Innes at Vanguard Markets.

“If we put this data set in the context of slowing China second-quarter GDP, where consumption was the most significant drag, the numbers do suggest that the global economic slowdown is being echoed through weaker global demand data. Definitely a bearish signal for oil demand.”

– Key figures around 2050 GMT –

New York – Dow: FLAT at 27,222.97 (close)

New York – S&P 500: UP 0.4 percent at 2,995.11 (close)

New York – Nasdaq: UP 0.3 percent at 8,207.24 (close)

London – FTSE 100: DOWN 0.6 percent at 7,493.09 (close)

Frankfurt – DAX 30: DOWN 0.9 percent at 12,227.85 (close)

Paris – CAC 40: DOWN 0.4 percent at 5,550.55 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.5 percent at 3,482.83 (close)

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 2.0 percent at 21,046.24 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: DOWN 0.5 percent at 28,461.66 (close)

Shanghai – Composite: DOWN 1.0 percent at 2,901.18 (close)

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2548 from $1.2431 at 2050 GMT

Pound/euro: DOWN at 89.87 pence from 90.27 pence

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1277 from $1.1222

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 107.30 yen from 108.11 yen

Brent North Sea crude: DOWN $1.73 at $61.93 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: DOWN $1.48 at $55.30 per barrel