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Risk sentiment turns negative

Published: 24 May at 11 AM Tags: Euro Exchange Rate, Euro Crisis, Yen Exchange Rate, UK, Economy, Spain,

A major sell-off of risk was felt in worldwide stock markets yesterday after the Japanese stock market fell by 7.3% yesterday, its biggest one-day fall in 13 years. The losses extended to all the European bourses but although the Dow in New York opened over 100 points down, it closed fractionally down on the day after staging something of a recovery.

The trigger was worse than expected data out of China on top of US Federal Reserve Chairman’s Ben Bernanke’s words the previous evening.

Answering questions in Congress on Wednesday night, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke hinted that the US central bank could begin to scale back quantitative easing “in the next few meetings” if there is a sustained improvement in the economy.

Bernanke's comments were likened to “a cold splash of water to a piping hot rally.”

Earlier, sentiment had turned negative after worse than expected factory activity growth in China with the manufacturing purchasing managers' index unexpectedly falling to a seven-month low of 49.6 from the previous 50.4.

In Europe, European Central Bank (ECB) President Mario Draghi spoke yesterday of the high levels of interconnection between the UK and the euro zone but stressed the importance of moving towards a tighter union and following through on further banking system integration.

In his speech at the 'The Future of Europe in the Global Economy' event hosted by the City of London Corporation on Thursday, Draghi highlighted the interdependence of the UK and Europe in general and sought to assure City professionals that “Europe needs a more European UK as much as the UK needs a more British Europe”.

The ECB President insisted that both the UK and the euro area share the common interest of achieving “stability in the functioning of our economic system and particularly of our financial markets”.

In Draghi’s own words, “The answer to the crisis has not been less Europe, but more Europe,”.

In a reality check, a report out yesterday showed that banks in Spain will need to put aside more provisions of up to €10 billion to cover loans that borrowers may struggle to repay, according to forecasts by the Bank of Spain.