European stocks mostly down as 2022 haunts investors

Barring the FTSE in London and the pan-European Stoxx 600 Index, markets in Europe were down during early on Wednesday after a mixed day in Asia as investors look ahead to the opportunities and the threats in 2023.

So far, the FTSE had gained 59.06 points (0.79 percent) and the Stoxx 600 was up 0.71 points or 0.17 percent while Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC were mostly flat albeit marginally in red zone.

On Tuesday, the European stocks were buoyed after China officially announced ending quarantine for inbound travelers on Jan 8 — a move which symbolizes an end to the zero-Covid policy that it has held for nearly three years. Britain’s FTSE 100 was closed for a public holiday on Tuesday and reopened Wednesday.

With three trading days left for the year, 2022 has proved to be dismal year for global stock markets as governments and central banks grappled with sky-high inflation arising from the fallout from Russia’s war in Ukraine and persistent Covid-19 restrictions in China.

Markets are now wary of the prospect of an imminent recession and a potentially prolonged period of sluggish economic growth, with one economist telling CNBC on Tuesday that most major economies would be “lucky” to achieve 1 percent GDP growth per annum for much of the next decade.

As far as the euro is concerned, it made gains the US dollar, pound sterling and yen – 0.04 percent, 0.17 percent and 0.35 percent respectively.

Earlier, shares in Asia-Pacific mostly fell Wednesday after further losses on Wall Street on the previous day, with the US stock markets on track for their worst year since 2008.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index was up 1.56 percent to 19,898.91, leading gains in the region and bucking the wider trend as Chief Executive John Lee announced further easing of Covid measures in the city.

But in Mainland China, the Shanghai Composite closed 0.26 percent lower at 3,087.4 and the Shenzhen Component fell 0.86 percent to 11,010.53.

In South Korea, the Kospi fell 2.12 percent to 2,280.45 as stocks of heavyweight chipmakers and battery manufacturers priced in the effects of ex-dividend, which shareholders would not be entitled to annual payouts for next year. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 shed 0.30 percent to close at 7,086.4 after giving up earlier gains.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 closed down 0.41 percent at 26,340.5 and the Topix declined marginally to end at 1,909.02.

The Bank of Japan reiterated its stance released its summary of opinion from its monetary policy meeting held last week, in which it unexpectedly widened the target range for Japanese government bond yields.

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