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Stocks fall, oil dips as Japan slips into recession

Shares fell and the oil price slid on Monday after data showed Japan had slipped into recession, raising concerns about global growth.

European shares opened lower. They followed Tokyo’s Nikkei index which lost 3%, its biggest one-day drop since August on news that the world’s third-largest economy unexpectedly shrank by an annualised 1.6% in the third quarter.

This followed a 7.3% contraction in the previous quarter caused by a rise in the national sales tax and ran counter to economists forecasts for a 2.1% rebound.

The data initially pushed the yen to a seven-year low against the dollar, but as Tokyo stocks fell the Japanese currency rebounded.

It also shaved $1 off the price of Brent crude oil and sent ripples across Europe, where the FTSEurofirst 300 pan-European share index was down 0.3%. Data on Friday showed eurozone economic output expanded more than expected in the third quarter but remained weak.

Leaders from the Group of 20 countries agreed on Sunday a package of measures they said would add an extra 2.1 percentage points to growth over five years. They also agreed steps to tackle climate change and crack down on tax avoidance.

But financial markets focused on Japan’s economic downturn.

"It’s a bit of shock for the market, because people believed that the Bank of Japan had everything under control. But overall, the initial negative reaction shouldn’t last too long. Investors still expect central bank action worldwide to support the global economy," FXCM analyst Nicolas Cheron said.

Other Asian shares also fell. MSCI’s main index of Asia-Pacific stocks outside Japan lost 0.5%.

Chinese equities dropped as profit taking outweighed buying by foreign investors as a landmark Hong Kong-Shanghai trading link debuted on Monday.

The Shanghai Composite ended down 0.2% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 1%. The yen was the big mover on foreign exchange markets. After the gross domestic product data, it fell to as low as ¥117.06 to the dollar but later rebounded and was last at ¥116.12, up 0.3% on the day.

The dollar index dipped 0.1% as a result and the euro made a similar gain versus the greenback.

As the Japanese data stoked concerns about the global economy, undermining stronger than expected US retail sales data on Friday, German 10-year bund yields also fell, opening down two basis points at 0.77%, just above a record low of 0.716%.

Brent crude last traded at $78.32 a barrel, down 1.4% after the Japanese data was seen hitting global demand.

"This is another knock on crude oil prices, another bearish factor," said Tony Nunan, oil risk manager at Mitsubishi Corp.

Eyes remain on possible Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries production cuts when the oil cartel meets next week.

Gold held near two-week highs on a softer dollar. Spot gold was last at $1,185.60.


Published on:
November 17, 2014
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