Europe’s main stock markets opened in the red and Asian stock markets were dragged down Wednesday by declines in the energy sector as oil prices continued to tumble for a third day. The stock market sell-offs prompted investors to park their funds in safer assets, pushing gold prices and bonds to multimonth highs.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index was the biggest loser for the day, closing down 3.15 percent as a stronger yen hit exporters while South Korea’s Kospi Index slipped 0.84 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index fell 2.24 percent after its central bank, the Reserve Bank of Australia, kept interest rates on hold at a record low of 2 percent Wednesday. India’s benchmark S&P BSE Sensex closed 1.29 percent lower.
Elsewhere in Asia, China’s Shanghai Composite Index closed 0.38 percent down, after trading in positive territory for most of the day while the CSI 300 Index of the largest listed companies in Shanghai and Shenzhen fell 0.4 percent.
China’s Nasdaq-style ChiNext Index bucked the trend, closing 0.73 percent up. Oil prices tumbled as optimism over a possible deal between OPEC and non-OPEC producers to reduce oversupply faded, according to media reports.
U.K.’s FTSE 100 was down 0.78 percent, France’s CAC 40 was down 0.69 percent and Germany’s DAX Index lost 1.13 percent during morning trade Wednesday.
Major European bourses opened lower as eurozone economic growth slumped to four-month low in January, according to a Markit survey released Wednesday.
Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit, said: “Growth and inflation have clearly failed to pick up over the past year despite the renewed stimulus efforts from the ECB [European Central Bank]. This raises the question of whether existing stimulus has simply been insufficient, or whether monetary policy is proving ineffective."
In the U.S., stock futures on the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones were both marginally up, while stock futures on the Nasdaq were down 0.14 percent.