Global markets mostly sink with inflation in spotlight

Investor fears about inflation have played off against optimism over the global recovery outlook in recent months. AFP/Mohd Rasfan

NEW YORK - World stock markets mostly sank on Wednesday with the outlook for inflation in the spotlight.

Asia fell as a slowdown in US consumer inflation failed to overcome Covid concerns, with Hong Kong dragged by a collapse in casino firms as Macau unveiled a planned crackdown on the sector.

Frankfurt and Paris equities also slid in early afternoon eurozone deals, following overnight Wall Street losses.

London however edged higher at midday, despite data showing that UK annual inflation spiked to a nine-year peak of 3.2 percent in August.

That came one day after news that US inflation slowed to 5.3 percent in August from a 13-year high.

Markets have seesawed this year over concerns that central banks will end Covid support measures to tame inflation.

Policymakers insist elevated prices will be temporary -- but investors appear unsure.

"Inflation is certainly becoming a growing concern, with expectations for tapering and rate hikes," OANDA analyst Craig Erlam told AFP.

"The recent softening in the US is providing some relief but the Fed is still expected to taper this year and further tightening won't be that far behind." 

Erlam added that inflationary concerns could "act as a headwind for equity markets in the final months of the year".

After a bright start to September, most equities around the world have also gone into reverse in recent sessions as confidence is shaken by the Delta coronavirus variant.

A number of countries have faced a worrying jump in new cases that have forced some, including China, to reimpose tough containment measures.

Investors are also having to grapple with a range of other issues including China's regulatory crackdown on private enterprises, including the high tech sector.


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