World markets fall on Chinese growth concerns
World stock markets slipped Friday after China reported weaker-than-expected economic data, stirring up worries about the state of the world's second largest economy.
European indexes were also weighed down by British Prime Minister Theresa May's failure to get assurances for a Brexit divorce deal at an EU summit in Brussels.
KEEPING SCORE: Germany's DAX declined 0.8 percent to 10,842 and France's CAC 40 fell 1.0 percent to 4,847. Britain's FTSE 100 index was down 0.7 percent at 6,831. Wall Street was set to open lower. Dow and S&P 500 futures were both down 0.9 percent.
ASIA'S DAY: Japan's Nikkei 225 index slid 2 percent to 21,374.83 and the Kospi in South Korea lost 1.3 percent to 2,069.38. Hong Kong's Hang Seng was down 1.6 percent at 26,094.79. The Shanghai Composite index fell 1.5 percent to 2,593.74. Australia's S&P ASX 200 shed 1.1 percent to 5,602.00. Shares were also lower in Taiwan and Southeast Asia.
CHINESE DATA: Chinese industrial output and retail sales slowed in November, official data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed Friday. Industrial output rose 5.4 percent over a year ago, compared with a 5.9 percent rise in October. Retail sales grew by 8.1 percent, down from 8.6 percent in the previous month. Investors are keeping close tabs on Chinese economic releases amid the country's trade dispute with the U.S. The two countries have agreed to a 90-day cease-fire on tariffs and are planning to use the time to resolve a myriad of issues.
ANALYST'S TAKE: "Markets have been anticipating slower growth in production because of trade tensions. But retail sales show that consumption may not be strong enough to support the external sector," said Francis Tan, an investment strategist at UOB Private Bank. "These slower numbers will surface on policymakers' dashboards and there is a possibility of more stimulus early in the new year," he added.
BREXIT TROUBLES: On Thursday, May asked 27 European leaders to "hold nothing in reserve" in helping her sell a Brexit deal that has been criticized by loyalists and political opponents alike. Without a deal, Britain would leave the bloc on March 29 with no deal, "with all the disruption that would bring," she warned. EU officials seemed exasperated at the lack of concrete new ideas from Britain. The leaders' final summit conclusions did not include an offer to grant further assurances to the Britain over Brexit.
OTHER DATA: A Bank of Japan survey released Friday measuring confidence among large-scale manufacturers held steady at 19 points. The "tankan" survey, which includes automakers and electronics companies, was flat for the second month after three quarters of decline. Analysts said the showing is decent, given that the Japanese economy contracted in the first and third quarters, but it could be a sign that global trade tensions are still weighing on corporate sentiment. Separately, a survey of business activity showed that anti-government protests in France weighed on the big services sector in November, causing it to contract. The protests have expanded and are set to continue this weekend, potentially stifling holiday spending as well as tourism.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude fell 16 cents to $52.42 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract added $1.43 on Thursday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, dropped 26 cents to $61.19 in London.
CURRENCIES: The dollar weakened to 113.55 yen from 113.60 yen in late trading Thursday. The euro eased to $1.1288 from $1.1363. The British pound fell to $1.2561 from $1.2653.