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Markets slump on weak Chinese manufacturing report

US stock markets posted steep losses in the first trading day of 2016 on Monday as global slowdown concerns undermined investor confidence. The dollar strengthened, live dollar index data indicate the ICE US Dollar Index, a measure of the dollar’s value against a basket of six major currencies, edged up 0.2% to 98.837. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1.58%, recording the worst start to a year since 2008. Investors sold off risky assets and bought haven assets like Treasuries and gold after China’s stock market plunged 7% following the Caixin report China’s factory activity contracted for the 10th straight month in December. The Nasdaq Composite ended lower 2%. The S&P 500 lost 1.53%, with all ten sectors finishing in the red led by financials, health-care and consumer discretionary stocks. The trading volume was about 8.5 billion shares on US exchanges, which is 18% above the daily average for the past 20 trading days. In economic news US manufacturing activity contracted further as Institute for Supply Management Manufacturing Index declined to 48.2% in December from 48.6% in November. US construction spending fell 0.4% in November instead of 0.6% expected gain. Today at 15:45 CET December ISM New York Index will be released in US.

European stock markets ended sharply lower on Monday as weak manufacturing data from China fueled concerns about global economic slowdown. The euro weakened against the dollar on weaker-than-expected German inflation data, trading at $1.0833 late Monday, compared with $1.0861 late Friday. The Stoxx Europe 600 index fell 2.5%, Germany’s DAX 30 sank 4.3% and was the hardest hit regional index, France’s CAC 40 and UK’s FTSE 100 indexes dropped 2.5% and 2.4% respectively. All sectors ended lower with auto stocks leading decliners with a 4.5% loss. Shares of Fiat Chrysler sank 37% after the car maker spun off luxury sports car manufacturer Ferrari, which edged up 0.5% in the first trading day after spin-off. In euro-zone manufacturing activity expanded at highest pace since April 2014 as manufacturing purchasing managers index came in at 53.2, up from 52.8 in November. At the same time the flash reading on German inflation indicated consumer prices rose just 0.2% in December year-over-year, compared with 0.3% in previous month. Today at 09:55 CET December Unemployment Rate and Unemployment Change will be released in Germany. The tentative outlook is neutral. And at 11:00 CET flash Consumer Price Index for December will be published in euro-zone. The tentative outlook is positive.

Nikkei extended losses and closed 0.4% lower today as yen edged down against the dollar after hitting 11 week high on Monday following the plunge in Chinese stocks. Chinese stocks are stabilizing today with Shanghai Composite Index switching between gains and losses after Chinese regulators said they may restrict stock sales by major shareholders, addressing concerns that major shareholders may move to sell around 1 trillion yuan of shares after a six-month ban on selling by large shareholders expires on January 8.

Oil prices are edging higher today after ending lower on Monday despite a rally spurred by growing tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Saudi Arabia on Sunday severed diplomatic ties with Iran as hundreds of Iranians protested against the kingdom’s Saturday execution of a prominent Shiite cleric. February WTI fell 0.8% to $36.76 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. February Brent crude settled down 0.2% to $37.22 a barrel on London’s ICE Futures exchange, reversing course after an earlier high of $38.99.

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