Stocks, oil slip as dire China data feed recession fears

Traders are seen in front of a screen with trading figures in red at Thailand Stock Exchange building in Bangkok, Thailand March 13, 2020. REUTERS/Juarawee Kittisilpa/Files

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  • Asian stock markets:
  • China retail sales dive 11.1%, output drops 2.9%
  • Nikkei pairs gains, S&P 500 futures turn lower
  • Dollar holds near 20-year highs, yen gets safety bid
  • Oil down over $2 a barrel on demand worry

SYDNEY, May 16 (Reuters) – Asian share markets stumbled on Monday and oil prices slid after shockingly weak data from China underlined the deep damage lockdowns are doing to the world’s second-largest economy.

China’s April retail sales plunged 11.1% on the year, almost twice the fall forecast, while industrial output dropped 2.9% when analysts had looked for a slight increase. read more

“The data paint a picture of a stalling economy and one in need of more aggressive stimulus and a rapid easing of COVID restrictions, neither of which are likely to be forthcoming anytime soon,” said Mitul Kotecha, head of emerging markets strategy at TD Securities .

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“China’s weaker growth trajectory will add to pressure on its markets and fuel a further worsening in global economic prospects, weighing on risk assets. We expect further CNY depreciation.”

In Europe, EUROSTOXX 50 and FTSE futures both eased 0.3%. S&P 500 stock futures lost early gains to drop 0.6%, while Nasdaq futures fell 0.5%. Both are far from last year’s highs, with the S&P having fallen for six straight weeks.

China’s central bank had also disappointed those hoping for a rate easing, though on Sunday Beijing did allow a further cut in mortgage loan interest rates for some home buyers. read more

Monday’s data overshadowed news that Shanghai aimed to reopen broadly and allow normal life to resume from June 1. read more

Chinese blue chips (.CSI300) shed 0.8% in reaction, while commodity currencies took a knock led by the Australian dollar which is often used as a liquid proxy for the yuan.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan (.MIAPJ0000PUS) lost early gains to stand flat, following a slide of 2.7% last week, when it hit a two-year low.

Japan’s Nikkei (.N225) clung to gains of 0.5%, having lost 2.1% last week even as a weak yen offered some support to exporters.

Sky-high inflation and rising interest rates drove US consumer confidence sink to an 11-year low in early May and raised the stakes for April retail sales due on Tuesday. read more

DOWNGRADING GROWTH

A hyper-hawkish Federal Reserve has driven a sharp tightening in financial conditions, which led Goldman Sachs to cut its 2022 GDP growth forecast to 2.4%, from 2.6%. Growth in 2023 is now seen at 1.6% on an annual basis, down from 2.2%.

“Our financial conditions index has tightened by over 100 basis points, which should create a drag on GDP growth of about 1pp,” said Goldman Sachs economist Jan Hatzius.

“We expect that the recent tightening in financial conditions will persist, in part because we think the Fed will deliver on what is priced.”

Futures imply 50 basis-point hikes in both June and July and rates between 2.5-3.0% by year end, from the current 0.75-1.0%.

Fears that the tightening will lead to recession spurred a rally in bonds last week, which saw 10-year yields drop 21 basis points from peaks of 3.20%. Early Monday, yields were easing again to reach 2.91%.

The pullback saw the dollar come off a two-decade top, though not by much. The dollar index was last at 104.560, and within spitting distance of the 105.010 peak.

The euro stood at $1.0403 , having got as low as $1.0348 last week. The dollar did lose ground on the yen, which seemed to get a safe-haven bid in the wake of the China data, slipping to 129.02 yen.

In cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin was last up 2% at $30,354, having touched its lowest since December 2020 last week following the collapse of TerraUSD, a so-called stablecoin.

In commodity markets, gold was pressured by high yields and a strong dollar and was last at $1,809 an ounce having shed 3.8% last week.

Oil prices reversed course as the dire Chinese data rekindled worries about demand.

Brent lost $2.31 to $109.24, while US crude shed $2.14 to $108.35.

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Reporting by Wayne Cole; Editing by Sam Holmes and Clarence Fernandez

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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