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Stocks slide on returning recession fears

By AFP - Jan 19,2023 - Last updated at Jan 19,2023

LONDON — Stock markets mostly slid and other major assets including the dollar and oil weakened Thursday after disappointing US data renewed worries about possible global recession this year.

The optimism that flowed through trading floors since the start of the year has taken a knock this week, hit in large part by weak US economic data and earnings.

The downbeat mood offset hopes that China's economy would enjoy a strong recovery this year as it moves away from its zero-COVID policy.

"An overnight sell-off in the US has soured sentiment," noted AJ Bell investment director Russ Mould.

"Weak US retail sales suggested consumers' resilience may have been pushed beyond breaking point."

Mould added that Microsoft's plan to slash 10,000 jobs "and a series of weak earnings reports also didn't help the market's mood".

European Central Bank chief Christine Lagarde on Thursday insisted that the eurozone economy would fare "a lot better" this year than initially feared. 

The economic "news has become much more positive in the last few weeks", Lagarde told an audience at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Elsewhere, the New Zealand dollar and country's stock market suffered minor losses after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's shock announcement that she would step down next month, saying she no longer has "enough in the tank".

Expectations that US interest rates would not rise as much as previously feared weighed on the US dollar.

The yen bounced back strongly after Wednesday's slump that had been triggered by a Bank of Japan decision not to tweak monetary policy.

Several Federal Reserve officials have warned that the US central bank would continue to tighten its own policy until inflation is brought down from multidecade highs.

After five straight rises, Norway left its benchmark interest rate on hold at 2.75 per cent Thursday, but hinted at a fresh rise in March.

Worries about recession weighed also on oil prices, despite hopes for a spike in demand as China reopens to the world.

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