Stocks steadier after volatile week

Investors are keeping an eye on developments in the US debt row and the China Evergrande crisis as well as the Federal Reserve's plans to tighten monetary policy. AFP/Daniel Roland

BEIJING - Stock markets were steadier on Monday after last week's volatility, with traders assessing recession risks as high inflation causes central banks to hike interest rates.

A more stable performance for European equities approaching the halfway stage followed a similar performance in Asia as investors digested more weak economic data out of China and the eurozone.

Brussels on Monday sharply cut its eurozone growth forecast for 2022, blaming skyrocketing energy prices caused by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

In commodities trading, wheat prices surged to a record after India banned exports of the commodity owing to a heatwave hitting production.

Global wheat prices had already soared on tight supply concerns since Russia's February invasion of agricultural powerhouse Ukraine, which previously accounted for 12 percent of world exports.

The price jumped to 435 euros ($453) per tonne as the European market opened Monday.

World equity markets have meanwhile been volatile for much of 2022, fuelled by uncertainty over supply chain snarls owing to China's lockdowns, decades-high inflation pressures and anxiety over Russia's invasion. 

Wall Street stocks closed Friday with a robust rally on the tech-rich Nasdaq after a tumultuous week that saw markets fluctuate on US inflation data and slumping Chinese exports.

One of the main drivers of volatility is China's lockdowns. Economic engine Shanghai in particular has been under strict virus restrictions since April, shuttering factories and pausing port activity. 

The extent of the economic haemorrhaging was revealed Monday when China's National Bureau of Statistics announced the country's retail sales slumped 11.1 percent on-year in April.

Industrial production sank 2.9 percent -- the lowest showing since March 2020.

- Risk of recession -

"The market continues to trade on very short-term recessionary signals..., keeping intraday volatility high," said Stephen Innes of SPI Asset Management. 

Economist Clifford Bennett of ACY Securities said "there is a very real risk, even likelihood of a triple northern hemisphere recession across the US, Europe and China simultaneously and virtually immediately".

He added that all eyes will be on how the Federal Reserve acts in the coming months, specifically whether it will further raise US interest rates to combat surging inflation. 

On the corporate front Monday, American fast-food giant McDonald's said it would exit the Russian market and sell its business in the country to a local buyer in the wake of the Ukraine war.

French automaker Renault has meanwhile handed over its Russian assets to the Russian government, marking the first major nationalisation since the onset of sanctions over Moscow's military campaign.


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