TOKYO – Stock markets sank Wednesday after the World Bank downgraded its global growth forecast and the slump in oil and metals prices kept investors on edge.
KEEPING SCORE: In Europe, France’s CAC 40 fell 1 per cent to 4,249.80 and Germany’s DAX slipped 0.7 per cent to 9,872.88. Britain’s FTSE 100 shed 1.2 per cent to 6,465.26. Dow futures were down 0.4 per cent at 17,459 and S&P 500 futures dropped 0.5 per cent to 2,006.10, auguring a rocky start for Wall Street following erratic trading the day before.
DISMAL FORECAST: The World Bank downgraded its forecast for global growth this year to 3 per cent from an earlier estimate of 3.4 per cent, citing sluggish performances in Europe and Japan and the slowdown in China. Lower oil prices and stronger U.S. growth may offset some of that weakness, but the bank sees risks to emerging markets if investors shift funds to take advantage of rising interest rates and improving economic prospects in the United States.
ENERGY: Oil fell again after the UAE energy minister said OPEC has no plans to curb production to shore up prices that have slumped almost 60 per cent since June. U.S. crude was down 73 cents to $45.16 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It lost 18 cents to close at $45.89 a barrel on Tuesday. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, fell 82 cents to $47.00 in London. Some of the fall in crude reflects oversupply but analysts say a weak global economy is also a factor.
COPPER CLANGER: The price of copper, a metal used in many industries that is also a barometer of global economic demand, plunged for a second day, adding to jitters from the slump in oil prices. Copper on CME Group’s COMEX market was down 6.4 per cent at $247.60 a pound. Copper on the LME’s cash market fell 3.5 per cent a ton on Wednesday.
THE QUOTE: “Weaker leads from Wall Street, continued capitulation of oil and iron ore prices, along with a dramatic plunge in copper overnight, spells risk-off,” said CMC Markets sales trader Will Leys in a commentary. “In short, this is the theme being played out today. Copper is often viewed as a bellwether for economic growth, so its decline has added to the existing unease.”
ASIA’S DAY: Japan’s Nikkei 225 dropped 1.7 per cent to 16,795.96 and South Korea’s Kospi edged 0.2 per cent lower to 1,913.66. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong slipped 0.4 per cent to 24,112.60 and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 fell 1 per cent to 5,353.60. The Shanghai Composite index surrendered 0.4 per cent to 3,222.44.
CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 116.80 yen from its previous close of 117.61 yen. The euro rose to $1.1796 from $1.1781.