PARIS: Stock markets slipped and oil prices also fell Monday as traders tracked weak Chinese economic data and a looming US interest rate hike that could tame inflation but also thwart growth.

Equities kicked off the month of May on the wrong foot after Wall Street finished a tough April by closing sharply down on Friday following disappointing results from tech giant Amazon.

“The markets remain skittish regarding an expected aggressive Fed monetary policy tightening cycle as the Central Bank is set to hike rates this week,” said analysts at Charles Schwab investment firm.

“Moreover, global sentiment continues to be hampered by the ongoing war in Ukraine, the recent spike in interest rates, the rallying US dollar, and slowing economic activity in China,” they said.

Wall Street see-sawed in early deals. The tech-heavy Nasdaq, having lost more than 13 percent in April for its worst monthly showing in 14 years, was just in the green -- but the Dow Jones index was off around 0.4 percent some two hours into trading.

Eurozone markets ended the session down, Paris losing 1.6 percent and Frankfurt tumbling 1.2 percent.

London was closed for a bank holiday.

Tokyo, Seoul, Mumbai, Manila, Sydney and Wellington all finished lower.

Hong Kong and mainland Chinese markets were closed along with several other Asian markets.

Data at the weekend showed Chinese manufacturing activity shrank last month at its fastest pace since the start of the pandemic as the government applies Covid-19 lockdowns in the biggest cities of the world’s second biggest economy.

While economic hub Shanghai remains locked down, Beijing has tightened virus controls in the capital, requiring clear Covid tests to visit public spaces.

This followed gloomy economic data in Europe on Friday showing that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was weighing on growth.

Published in Dawn,May 3rd, 2022

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