European shares traded mostly flat Thursday, after a lackluster day at Asian bourses. Worries over eventual tightening of U.S. monetary policy, exacerbated by a contraction in China’s manufacturing sector, continued to weigh on investor sentiment, with the pan-European STOXX 600 fluctuating between minor gains and losses.
London’s FTSE 100 and France’s CAC 40 were both trading flat, while Germany’s DAX was down 0.9 percent. The euro, meanwhile, bounced back to $1.1193 from three-week low of $1.1105 Wednesday.
“The markets have been very volatile of late, but the general trend is still down. The China slowdown is not helping,” Berkeley Futures Associate Director Richard Griffiths told Reuters, referring to a drastic slowdown in Chinese factory output reported Wednesday.
The preliminary Caixin China Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index, which is a gauge of nationwide manufacturing activity, fell to 47 in September, compared to a final reading of 47.3 in August -- making it the lowest reading in six years. The figures rekindled worries over the health of the world’s second-largest economy and dragged global equities into the red Wednesday.
On Thursday, Asian markets mostly recovered from the previous day’s sharp losses, with the exception of Japan, where the Nikkei 225 index -- opening for the first time since Friday -- closed down 2.8 percent.
“The Tokyo stock market is expected to remain volatile in the near term as investors closely examine the potential impact of the Volkswagen’s emissions scandal on Japan’s auto industry,” Tomoichiro Kubota, a senior market analyst at Tokyo’s Matsui Securities, said. Shares of car companies such as Mitsubishi, Mazda and Suzuki, which are among the biggest firms on the Nikkei, all closed down Thursday.
Elsewhere in Asia, China’s Shanghai Composite Index closed up 0.9 percent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng ended the day nearly 1 percent in the red. In India, the S&P BSE Sensex and the larger Nifty were both up over 0.4 percent.