Stocks set for longest losing streak since March, euro shines

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LONDON: World stocks were set for their longest losing streak in more than six months on Wednesday as weaker commodities weighed, while the euro hit its highest levels in three weeks.

The MSCI world equity index, which tracks shares in 47 countries, fell almost 0.2 per cent and was set for its fifth straight day of declines — its longest run in the red since March.

A slide in crude oil prices on worries over the outlook for demand and weaker metals prices weighed on mining and energy stocks across Asia and Europe, which took their cues from the previous day’s stock declines in the United States.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index was down 0.6 per cent and at its lowest level since Sept. 21. The index is still up nearly 6 per cent so far this year.

The UK’s top share index, the FTSE 100, declined 0.3 per cent while Germany’s export-oriented DAX fell 0.7 per cent, weighed down by a stronger euro, which had risen nearly half a per cent in European trading hours.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan had earlier fallen 0.6 per cent.

China’s Shanghai index was down 0.55 per cent, Australian stocks dropped 0.6 per cent and South Korea’s KOSPI shed 0.4 per cent. Japan’s Nikkei lost 1.5 per cent.

“It was nearly a week ago when we had that sharp and unexpected selloff in the Nikkei and given that we’ve lost over a per cent in Japan yet again overnight, it appears this negative move has yet again spread to this part of the world, ” said David Madden, analyst at CMC Markets in London.

“I think it’s a combination of people just viewing it (last week’s selloff) as a wake up call that even though the political and economic outlook haven’t changed a whole lot, equity markets just don’t go up forever.”

Lifted by steady economic growth, supportive monetary policies and solid corporate earnings, global equities have rallied hard, with those in the United States, Germany and South Korea scaling record heights recently, while Japan’s Nikkei climbed to a 26-year peak.

Analysts also said the rising euro, which on Tuesday got a boost from strong German economic growth data, also put some pressure on euro zone stocks. The single currency hit its highest against the dollar since Oct. 20 on Wednesday.

German 10-year bond yields fell 2 basis points to 0.38 per cent, down from more than two-week highs hit on Tuesday at 0.43 per cent.

With the euro zone’s annual economic growth rate outstripping that of the United States in the third quarter, led by Germany, markets are increasingly optimistic about the regional outlook.

Pressured by the euro’s surge, the dollar index against a basket of six major currencies lost about 0.3 per cent to 93.509. .

The greenback was half a per cent lower at 112.835 yen after pulling back from a high of 113.910 the previous day.

“The dollar is getting hit against the euro and the yen and the strong data out of Europe is definitely a factor, with some investors bailing out of the long dollar trade,” said Alvin Tan, an FX strategist at Societe Generale in London.

U.S. inflation data is due later in the day.

Crude oil prices stretched losses, weighed by forecasts for rising U.S. crude output and a gloomier outlook for global demand growth in a report from the International Energy Agency (IEA).

U.S. crude futures were down 0.84 per cent at $55.23 per barrel and on track for their fourth day of losses. Brent lost 0.8 per cent to $61.72 per barrel.

Shanghai nickel and zinc tumbled alongside steel, extending losses from the previous session, with the commodities still reeling after the previous day’s indicators pointed to slowing industrial production growth in China.

On Tuesday, a batch of data from China — Australia’s biggest export market — showed the economy cooled further last month, with industrial output, fixed asset investment and retail sales missing expectations.