LONDON (AFP) – World stock markets sank heavily on Tuesday as investors shunned risky assets amid renewed fears over the United States economy, while Tokyo also dived on concern over the soaring yen, dealers said.
In morning European deals, London shed 1.05 percent as British investors returned from a long weekend after a public holiday on Monday. Frankfurt slid 0.79 percent, Paris dived 1.00 percent and Madrid dipped 1.35 percent.
“The market is still definitely in a negative mindset, as the engine of world growth — the United States economy — seems to be stalling,” said analyst Phil Gillett at trading firm Spreadex in London.
“Risk aversion is still at the forefront of traders’ minds,” he added.
Wall Street slumped on Monday after weak consumer spending figures and ahead of key data later this week expected to show the US economic recovery is slowing down.
Before the weekend, New York had rallied after Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke said the US central bank was ready to step in if the economy faltered.
“Continued concerns about the pace of economic recovery — specifically in the US — have provoked further risk aversion since Friday’s post-Bernanke bounce,” added CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson.
In Asia on Tuesday, Japan’s multi-billion-dollar plans to boost its economy and rein in the yen were shrugged off as a fresh set of poor US data and the strong yen weighed on investor sentiment.
Tokyo plummeted to a 16-month low, one day after the government unveiled an 11-billion-dollar package of stimulus measures aimed at kickstarting growth and spending in the nation.
That came hours after the Bank of Japan (BoJ) announced a fresh batch of monetary easing aimed at taming the soaring yen which is hampering the export sector that is key the economy’s health.
However, traders were unimpressed with the efforts and, with weak consumer figures in the US pointing to a global slowdown, they bought into the safe-haven yen, sending it up against the dollar and euro.
The Tokyo stock market plunged 3.55 percent to 8,824.06 points — its lowest closing level since April 2009 — wiping out Monday’s gains, as worries over a strong yen hit exporters.
“It would appear that market reaction to the BoJ’s extra stimulus has merely served to reinforce the perception of central bank impotence in the face of deteriorating economic conditions, thus fuelling risk aversion and equity market sell-offs,” added Hewson.
The dollar, which had struck a 15-year low last week, slipped to 84.30 yen in morning London trade, from 84.55 yen late Monday in New York.
Investors got an anaemic lead from Wall Street, where the Dow fell 1.39 percent on Tuesday after the Commerce Department released data showing July consumer spending rose by just 0.4 percent and incomes gained 0.2 percent.
The data was largely in line with forecasts but analysts said the numbers were disappointing as they showed spending outpacing income.
Consumer spending is a key driver of US economic growth, usually accounting for two-thirds of output.
Kenneth Broux, markets strategist at Lloyds Banking Group, said equities were being hampered by two factors.
First, he cited “the rate of US economic deterioration in the third quarter”.
And secondly, Broux added that there was “a realisation that US and Japanese central banks have played their cards — and additional now be on key US economic data due to be released this week, including industrial manufacturing numbers on Wednesday and key employment figures on Friday.
In Zurich, the Swiss franc reached a historic high point against the euro when the Swiss refuge currency continued to strengthen.
The euro dipped to 1.2912 Swiss francs, a record low level since the European currency was introduced in 1999, after hovering either side of the symbolic 1.30-franc barrier for the past week.
“The psychological barrier of 1.30 has definitely been breached,” said analysts at Zuercher Kantonalbank (ZKB).
Analysts believe the Swiss franc will continue to strengthen to record levels against the euro, despite a pattern of intervention by the Swiss central bank earlier this year to dampen its rise and avoid deflation.