Weak China data leads shares, euro lower
LONDON, Aug 10 — Poor Chinese trade data clipped a hot streak for European shares and the euro today, trimming gains built since the European Central Bank signalled it was readying plans to combat the region’s debt woes and limp growth.
Europe’s stock markets began their most recent rally two weeks ago when ECB President Mario Draghi said the central bank was “ready to do whatever it takes to preserve the euro”, raising hopes of heavy bond buying to aid Spain and Italy.
A big undershoot in China’s July exports today, however, soured the mood a little.
The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was down 0.35 per cent at 1,097 points at 0930 GMT.
The drop was complemented by greater demand for German government bonds — traditionally favoured by risk-averse investors. Bund futures were up 64 ticks at 143.18 from yesterday’s settlement.
“There has been quite a healthy run-up after the ECB meeting last week — the Euro Stoxx 50 has risen around 8 per cent in the last three sessions, and so it is natural to see a bit of a correction,” said Adrian Foster at Rabobank.
“It is the ... weaker (Chinese) exports and bank lending that has pushed the market down.”
He added: “There was a hope that the stimulus that has been put in place would start to drive things in the third quarter, but there is nothing in these data that suggests the (Chinese) economy is really picking up.”
Limbo in the euro zone is also keeping markets in check. Hopes are high that the ECB will step in with bond purchases to ease borrowing costs for Spain and Italy, but until details emerge — including the strings attached to any support — investors will be wary.
The euro, the key barometer of faith in the euro zone’s ability to overcome its debt problems, was down at US$1.228, 1.3 per cent off its peak of the week.
“The euro is working its way through another small corrective phase within a massive, long-term downshift,” said Richard Hastings, macro strategist at Global Hunter Securities.
Next week, second-quarter gross domestic product data is expected to show the euro zone economy contracted.
Commodity markets took their cue from the lacklustre Chinese data.
Brent crude for September delivery was down 72 cents at US$112.50 by 0825 GMT, having traded as low as US$112.10 earlier in the session. US crude was down 73 cents at US$92.63.
Gold also inched down, but remained on track for a second weekly gain in three weeks, bolstered by hopes China could move again to stimulate growth. — Reuters