LONDON (AP) — Global stocks fell sharply Thursday as oil prices slid and a U.S. Federal Reserve official argued for a possible interest rate hike that saw the dollar gain ground.
KEEPING SCORE: On the last day before the long Easter weekend break, stock markets in Europe were posting big losses. France’s CAC-40 fell 1.7 percent to 4,350 points while Germany’s DAX dropped 1.2 percent to 9,906. Britain’s FTSE 100 was 1.3 percent lower at 6,119. Wall Street looked set for further losses — Dow futures and the broader S&P 500 futures were down 0.5 percent. U.S. stock markets are also closed on Good Friday, so Thursday’s session could well be impacted by traders closing out positions ahead of the break.
US RATE FEARS: Wednesday’s session in the U.S. was impacted by comments from a top official at the U.S. Federal Reserve and that followed through into Thursday trading in Europe and Asia. James Bullard, president of the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank, pointed to a broadly unchanged economic outlook and said a case could be made for a possible rate hike next month if the next round of jobs data exceeds official targets. The dollar advanced in the wake of Bullard’s comments, a development that weighed on Wall Street as investors fretted over the impact on U.S. exports.
OIL REVERSE: After a period of sustained gains, oil prices were back under pressure as concerns over excess supplies returned following U.S. stockpiles data. A barrel of benchmark New York crude was down 82 cents at $38.97 while a barrel of Brent, the international standard, fell 65 cents to $39.82.
ANALYST TAKE: “Markets have taken a turn lower, taking their cue from a difficult session last night in the U.S. and a mixed session in Asia,” said Chris Beauchamp, senior market analyst at IG. “The culprits are not difficult to find — a rising U.S. dollar and weaker oil prices.”
ASIA’S DAY: The Shanghai Composite Index tumbled 1.6 percent to 2,960.97 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng retreated 1.3 percent to 20,345.61. Sydney’s S&P ASX 200 fell 1.1 percent to 5,085.60 and Seoul’s Kospi was off 0.5 percent at 1,985.97. Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 shed 0.6 percent to 16,892.33.
CURRENCIES: The dollar was relatively steady Thursday. The euro was down 0.2 percent at $1.1160 while the dollar rose 0.2 percent at 112.62 yen.
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