Update as of 4:45 a.m. EDT: European markets were subdued Friday morning as the U.S. Federal Reserve’s comments about the state of the global economy and market volatility hurt investor sentiment.
The pan-European STOXX 600 declined by 0.9 percent, while London’s FTSE 100 fell nearly 0.6 percent. In Germany, the benchmark DAX index traded 1.4 percent in the red, while France’s CAC 40 fell 1.2 percent.
In China, stocks ended a day of volatile trade with the Shanghai Composite Index closing up 0.4 percent, while the smaller Shenzhen Composite ended the day with gains of 1.25 percent. India’s benchmark S&P BSE Sensex also gained over 400 points during Friday’s trade, retaining its early gains of 1.5 percent.
Most Asian shares traded up Friday, a day after the U.S. Federal Reserve decided to hold interest rates at their current record-low levels. However, Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index, fell nearly 2 percent, reacting to minutes released Friday by the Bank of Japan, in which the central bank raised doubts about China’s economic recovery.
“Many members pointed out that, if economic growth in emerging economies, including that in China, were to decelerate further, the effects of this on Japan's exports warranted attention,” the bank said, according to the minutes of a meeting held in the first week of August. “[Chinese stocks] remained highly volatile and future developments warranted close attention.”
China’s Shanghai Composite Index, which is currently off 40 percent from its June peak, continued to swing between small gains and losses during the day’s trade, following a week of more volatile fluctuations.
India’s S&P BSE Sensex and the larger Nifty index were both trading up 1.7 percent, while South Korea’s Kospi Composite Index, which finished at a one-month high earlier this week, added another 0.9 percent Friday. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was up 0.2 percent and Australia’s S&P ASX 200 closed up nearly 0.5 percent.
“Volatility is likely to remain elevated in the coming weeks and months,” Michael Arone, chief investment strategist at State Street Global Advisors, which manages $2.4 trillion in assets, told the Wall Street Journal. “We still don’t have clarity on when the Fed will raise interest rates … they acknowledge that the global environment is something that they’re monitoring.”
Announcing the decision to hold interest rates near zero, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen explicitly said Thursday that the central bank was focusing on the slowdown in China and emerging economies -- a development that has, in recent months, created a rout in global commodity prices and tempered inflation worldwide, including in the U.S.
“Yellen kept referring to the strong dollar and turmoil offshore, those were the main issues,” Mark Lister, head of private wealth research at Craigs Investment Partners Ltd. in Wellington, New Zealand, told Bloomberg. “They probably have taken a little bit more notice of what’s happening overseas, in China and emerging markets, than some people might have expected.”
The dollar index, which fell to a three-week low of 94.36 Thursday, remained largely unchanged at 94.52 Friday.