February 27, 2021

Stocks Fall in Europe for a Second Day; Asia Markets Mixed

LONDON — Stock markets in Europe fell for a second day Friday as investors braced for a speech by the chairman of the Federal Reserve and more data on the U.S. economy.

Anticipation that there would be some message from the Fed chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, on more economic stimulus at a symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, had helped to push global stock markets higher at the beginning of the week but had waned by Thursday.

Markets in Asia were mixed on Friday, with the MSCI Asia Pacific index up 0.3 percent after dropping several times during the day.

“Investors are waiting what Bernanke says and I don’t think there’s a great deal of expectation in the market,” Ian Scott, global head of equity strategy at Nomura, said. “Clearly people would rather hear what he’s going say and decide their strategy after that.” Mr. Bernanke is scheduled to speak at about 8 a.m. Mountain time — about 10 a.m. in New York and 5 p.m. in London.

Mr. Scott added that Mr. Bernanke’s speech was not the only information investors were waiting for. With uncertainties around the state of the global economy continuing, investors are holding out for more economic data to back up some recent disappointing survey figures.

“It’s a question of letting time pass and see some harder data,” Mr. Scott said.

As a sign of just how jumpy some investors are, Germany’s DAX index dropped 4 percent in 15 minutes in late trading on Thursday, surprising many investors who said there did not seem to be a clear reason for the sharp drop. Some analysts blamed it on speculation about an extended short selling ban in Europe or fear of a possible cut of Germany’s credit rating, but authorities quickly denied both rumors.

Still, the nervousness spread to Wall Street, where the Standard Poor’s 500-stock index closed down 1.56 percent on Thursday. After a positive report earlier in the week on durable goods sales, the outlook for the U.S. economy darkened somewhat Thursday with a government report showed that new claims for unemployment benefits rose more than expected last week. A report by the Commerce Department on the U.S. economy is due at 8.30 a.m. Friday in Washington.

Markets continued downward Friday in Hong Kong, where the Hang Seng index was 0.86 percent lower by midafternoon, and in India, where the Sensex was down 1.1 percent by the afternoon. The Nikkei 225-stock index rose 0.3 percent after Prime Minister Naoto Kan announced his resignation.

Gold rose 0.5 percent to $1,783.57 an ounce after falling earlier. Prices of the metal fell 4.3 percent this week after reaching a record on Aug. 23. Investors were spooked by four weeks of sharp declines on the stock markets and sought a haven, traders said.

Financial regulators in France, Italy and Spain extended a ban on short selling by another month on Thursday with the aim to calm large market swings. The ban, which regulators promised to review next month, did not prevent steep drops in banking shares earlier this month.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=9eeab646294f320096b4220d93804716

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