Stock markets mostly slide on US rate-hike fears

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Feb 06 2023 09:13 PM

LONDON - Stock markets mostly slid and the dollar firmed Monday after a forecast-busting US jobs report fanned expectations of more Federal Reserve interest rate hikes to cool sky-high inflation.

Adding to the downbeat mood were geopolitical concerns after the United States shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon that had floated across the country for days.

Equity market rallies enjoyed through January have largely stopped as investors contemplate an extended period of high borrowing costs aimed at bringing inflation down from multi-decade highs.

London's benchmark FTSE 100 index, however, struck an all-time high Friday, with analysts saying bad news, such as expectations of UK recession throughout this year, was priced in.

The British capital's top index has benefitted also from some strong company earnings, including record profits from energy giant Shell, and renewed investment from abroad amid pound weakness.

But it was down almost one percent near midday on Monday.

"Having hit a new all-time high..., the FTSE 100 opened the new trading week with a hangover," noted Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell.

"Throwing cold water over the party were stronger than expected jobs figures in the US, something closely monitored by the Federal Reserve when making interest rate decisions."

Eurozone stock markets fared worse, as did leading indices in Asia.

A softer tone from the Fed regarding its monetary tightening campaign had allowed market participants to entertain the possibility of a pause to rate hikes, or even a cut, later in the year.

But that optimism was dealt a heavy blow Friday by data showing more than half a million new jobs were created in the United States last month, nearly double the December figure and far more than the 188,000 expected.

Government figures also showed unemployment fell to the lowest level since 1969.

The reading showed the world's biggest economy remained strong despite almost a year of rate hikes and soaring prices, indicating the Fed still had plenty of work to do to rein in inflation.

"We are concerned that on the back of this kind of jobs report, it definitely holds the Fed to a higher-for-longer path," said Lisa Erickson at US Bank Wealth Management.

All three main indices sank Friday on Wall Street, with the Nasdaq down more than one percent as tech firms took a hit after disappointing earnings from giants Amazon, Apple and Google parent Alphabet.

In Asia on Monday, Mumbai stocks fell again with embattled tycoon Gautam Adani's troubled empire suffering more big losses.

Flagship Adani Enterprises gained more than 1,000 percent in five years before a rout begun last week on allegations of fraud at India's biggest conglomerate.

- Key figures around 1145 GMT -

  • London - FTSE 100: DOWN 0.9 percent at 7,832.80 points
  • Frankfurt - DAX: DOWN 1.1 percent at 15,301.70
  • Paris - CAC 40: DOWN 1.5 percent at 7,123.30
  • EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 1.5 percent at 4,194.91
  • Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 0.7 percent at 27,693.65 (close)
  • Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: DOWN 2.0 percent at 21,222.16 (close)
  • Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 0.8 percent at 3,238.70 (close)
  • New York - Dow: DOWN 0.4 percent at 33,926.01 (close)
  • Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.0762 from $1.0799 on Friday
  • Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2029 from $1.2052
  • Euro/pound: DOWN at 89.48 pence from 89.58 pence
  • Dollar/yen: UP at 132.23 yen from 132.00 yen
  • Brent North Sea crude: UP 0.5 percent at $80.32 per barrel
  • West Texas Intermediate: FLAT at $73.41 per barrel