European and Asian stock markets retreated Thursday on the eve of key US jobs data, as oil prices rebounded slightly from five-month lows.
Tokyo’s stocks index was the by far the biggest faller among major indices, closing down nearly two percent as the yen surged against the dollar, which makes Japanese exports more expensive.
After global equities rallied in November on optimism that the US Federal Reserve would cut interest rates early next year, markets have pulled back on concerns the buying was overdone.
Data released by payroll firm ADP on Wednesday showed a smaller-than-forecast rise in US private sector jobs, reinforcing views that the labour market and economy were slowing as inflation comes down.
All eyes were on Friday’s broader US jobs report.
“The slowdown in hiring continues and is becoming more obvious,” said Peter Boockvar, author of the Boock Report.
“What I’m mostly focused on right now is the trajectory of activity — and all I see is slowing in multiple places, including now the labour market.”
Wall Street ended in the red Wednesday.
Traders on Thursday were unimpressed with better-than-forecast rise in Chinese exports, as data also showed imports fell unexpectedly, highlighting the continued weakness in the struggling economy.
The yen strengthened more than 1.5 percent against the dollar on speculation the Bank of Japan could announce a shift away from its ultra-loose monetary policy at a meeting this month.
The Japanese currency has tumbled for much of the year owing to the BoJ’s refusal to budge but officials are shifting their positions as inflation rises.
Oil prices climbed, but they made little headway into the near four percent losses seen Wednesday that put US benchmark West Texas Intermediate below $70 for the first time since July.
Data pointing to a jump in US petrol stockpiles compounded demand worries as economies slow, while traders remain sceptical that Saudi Arabia and its allies will stick to deep output cuts.
Analysts have begun to consider the possibility that Riyadh could abruptly reopen the taps to maintain market share, similar to a move in 2014 to counter rising US production.
– Key figures around 1115 GMT –
London – FTSE 100: DOWN 0.1 percent at 7,507.33 points
Paris – CAC 40: DOWN 0.1 percent at 7,430.50
Frankfurt – DAX: DOWN 0.2 percent at 16,630.47
EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.2 percent at 4,476.26
Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 1.8 percent at 32,858.31 (close)
Hong Kong – Hang Seng Index: DOWN 0.7 percent at 16,345.89 (close)
Shanghai – Composite: DOWN 0.1 percent at 2,966.21 (close)
New York – Dow: DOWN 0.2 percent at 36,054.43 (close)
Dollar/yen: DOWN at 144.92 yen from 147.35 yen on Wednesday
Euro/dollar: UP at $1.0771 from $1.0768
Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2590 from $1.2559
Euro/pound: DOWN at 85.55 pence from 85.71 pence
West Texas Intermediate: UP 1.0 percent at $70.03 per barrel
Brent North Sea crude: UP 1.0 percent at $75.01 per barrel