US, global merger and acquisition numbers hit multiyear lows

Both U.S. and global mergers and acquisitions (M&A) hit multiyear lows in the third quarter as Europe reported a 45% increase in M&A activity compared to the same period last year, according to data from Refinitiv.

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U.S. M&A dropped to $246 billion, its lowest quarterly level since 2014. The number is a 40% drop year-over-year. Globally, M&A dropped to $729 billion, the lowest quarterly level since 2016.

The numbers are likely the result of uncertainty caused by factors like the U.S.-China trade war and Brexit. The latter may have played a part in Europe's $249 billion in M&A — outside companies view British ventures as vulnerable acquisition targets as Brexit drags on, according to Reuters. The United Kingdom is the most targeted nation this year, according to Refinitiv.

Meanwhile in Asia, M&A dropped to $160 billion, the lowest level since 2017. That number excludes Japan.

Asian M&A activity dropped 20% year-to-year as tensions remain high between anti-China protesters in business-centric Hong Kong and the government in Beijing.