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Markets diverge as traders digest weak China data

London stocks dipped 0.2 percent in late morning deals compared with Friday's close, foll...
Published 31 Aug, 2021 04:45pm

LONDON: European equities wavered Tuesday, despite gains elsewhere, with sentiment dented by renewed Chinese economic concerns and fears over the unwinding of central bank stimulus, dealers said.

London stocks dipped 0.2 percent in late morning deals compared with Friday's close, following a three-day holiday weekend.

In midday eurozone trade, Frankfurt gained 0.6 percent and Paris won 0.2 percent, compared with Monday's closing levels.

The European single currency hit a 3.5-week peak at $1.1832 after last week's key remarks from US Federal Reserve boss Jerome Powell.

Oil prices fell as investors assessed the damage to refineries after Hurricane Ida slammed into the rig-heavy Gulf of Mexico, and on the eve of an output meeting of OPEC and other key producers.

   **- 'Downside risks remain' -**

"Downside risks for the final months of the year remain -- which makes confidence in the central banks' plans for unwinding pandemic stimulus all the more important," OANDA analyst Craig Erlam told AFP.

"The services PMI from China overnight was a reminder of those risks, with the Delta variant continuing to drive rising case numbers in the US and elsewhere."

However, Asian indices rose Tuesday, tracking another record Wall Street close, as investors overcame early selling pressure sparked by PMI data indicating China's economic recovery had been slowed down by an outbreak of the fast-spreading Delta Covid variant.

The positive energy stoked by a pledge from Powell to be cautious in withdrawing the bank's vast financial support appeared to have dissipated at the open, replaced by fresh concerns over Beijing's crackdown on private enterprises and the ever-present spectre of the coronavirus.

The day got off to a weak start after China released figures showing activity in the services industry contracted last month for the first time since February 2020.

   **- Strict Chinese travel curbs -**

Authorities imposed strict travel restrictions on swathes of the country this month to contain its worst outbreak of Covid since the initial pandemic with dozens of cities affected and tens of millions of people subject to containment measures.

The moves saw flights cancelled and tourist spots closed while events were called off in a bid to nip the flare-up in the bud.

And while new case figures have been brought under control again, analysts warn any such spike in future will again likely hit the services sector.

Several other countries -- including Australia and New Zealand -- have been forced to impose tough measures to battle a surge in infections while also struggling with their vaccine rollouts.

Investors are now gearing up for the release of US employment data Friday, which could have a bearing on when the Fed begins tightening monetary policy.


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