Paris: World stocks, the US dollar and oil slipped in pre-Christmas trade on Wednesday while the 10-year Japanese government bond yield hit 3-1/2 year lows as gloomy UK and US data fanned concerns about a deep global economic slowdown.
The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors said UK house prices were set to fall by 10% next year. US figures on Tuesday showed sales of new and existing homes fell again and the economy contracted in the third quarter due to the biggest drop in consumer spending in 28 years.
MSCI world equity index fell 0.3% to a 1-1/2 week low while the FTSEurofirst 300 index of leading European shares lost 0.5%.
Belgium’s Fortis fell more than 8% after it unveiled a currency loss of 295 million euros. BNP Paribas, whose acquisition of parts of Fortis has stalled, fell 3.3%.
Stock markets in Germany, Finland, Switzerland, Sweden, Spain, Italy and Austria were closed on Wednesday while London, Paris, Amsterdam and Brussels bourses will close early in the afternoon.
Emerging stocks fell 0.25% while US crude oil was down 1.4% at US $38.42 a barrel.
Concerns about the deteriorating economy prompted investors to seek safer government bonds, pushing yields lower. The benchmark 10-year Japanese government bond yields fell as low as 1.195%, the lowest since July 2005.
There is no trading in euro zone government debt futures on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday for market holidays.
The dollar fell 0.4% against a basket of major currencies. It was down 0.7% at 90.30yen.
The US dollar was on track for its biggest monthly loss in at least 10 years against a basket of major currencies. It came under pressure after the Federal Reserve cut interest rates towards zero earlier this month and pledged to extend quantitative monetary easing.
“The dollar’s long-term outlook remains bearish as data continues to show how weak the US economy is,” said Tsutomu Soma, senior manager of foreign assets at Okasan Securities in Tokyo.