Major European indexes fell Thursday while Asian markets remained mixed as the U.S. Federal Reserve acknowledged the risk of a global slowdown in its first statement Wednesday since the December interest rate hike. China's shares tumbled Thursday, with the main benchmark closing at its lowest level since November 2014.
China's benchmark Shanghai Composite Index slumped 2.92 percent. The CSI 300 index of the largest listed companies in Shanghai and Shenzhen shed 2.6 percent. China’s Nasdaq-style ChiNext index fell 4.56 percent Thursday. China's volatile shares reportedly cost investors about 13 trillion yuan ($2 trillion) this month, while state media insisted that the market volatility did not reflect the real economy.
Meanwhile, news of the resignation of Japan's economy minister Akira Amari affected currency markets, sending the yen higher.
Asian markets remained mixed with Hong Kong, South Korea and Australia leading the major bourses of the region. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index gained 0.73 percent while Australia ASX 200 index closed up 0.55 percent. Japan’s Nikkei 225 closed 0.71 percent down while India's benchmark S&P BSE Sensex closed marginally lower. South Korea’s Kospi index rose 0.48 percent Thursday.
In Europe, Britain’s FTSE 100 fell 1.11 percent Thursday. Germany's DAX was down 1.98 percent while France's CAC 40 was down about 0.62 percent. The pan-European STOXX 600 was down 1.6 percent.
Meanwhile, U.S. stock futures were trading up during pre-market trading Thursday. The S&P 500 futures rose about 0.34 percent, Dow Jones futures were up 0.24 percent and Nasdaq futures were up 0.79 percent.
Sentiment on U.S. stock futures picked up after initially trading in the red as Fed’s statements noted that its officials were “closely monitoring” developments from China to Europe, for any adverse impact on the U.S. economy.
“The Fed is acknowledging reality — that the outlook has become more uncertain — and is signaling that there may be fewer rate hikes,” Shane Oliver, head of investment strategy in Sydney at AMP Capital Investors Ltd., told Bloomberg. “It seems central bankers around the world are starting to respond, which ultimately should be positive for share markets.”
Tech companies also pushed Wall Street futures higher Thursday as Silicon Valley giants Facebook Inc., Amazon Inc., and Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc. rose in pre-market futures trading on the S&P 500.