By Clare Connaghan and Neelabh Chaturvedi
Europe got swept up in the global stock-market rout Friday, with the major indexes suffering losses, mirroring the sharp declines seen in Asia and Wall Street overnight.
The benchmark Stoxx Europe 600 index fell 1.4%, while Germany's DAX index shed 1.5%. The U.K. FTSE 100 index was 1.2% lower, while France's CAC 40 dropped 1.1%. This followed declines in Asia, where Japan's Nikkei index ended 2.4% lower--its sharpest percentage loss since March 14.
A sharp selloff in U.S. equity markets Thursday triggered the retreat from global stock markets Friday, and Wall Street continued to edge lower Friday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average off 0.3%, the S&P 500 down 0.2% and the Nasdaq off 0.1%
"The reversal of momentum in U.S. equities...has wrapped itself around almost everything else like a cyclone," said Robert Savage, chief executive of Track.com.
The Nasdaq Composite Index notched its biggest one-day percentage slide in nearly 2 1/2 years Thursday, as investors resumed selling biotechnology and technology shares on concerns these once-highflying stocks are overvalued.
The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index ended down 3.1%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was also hit by selling, dropping 266.96 points and ending down 1.6%, at 16,170.22--its worst point and percentage decline since February.
"As it becomes ever clearer that the Federal Reserve is pretty much fixed in its determination to stop quantitative easing late this year, the oxygen that has fueled the five-year bull market is slowly draining out of the market," said Deutsche Bank strategists Jim Reid and Anthony Ip.
Sectors that benefited the most from the easy policy, such as technology and biotech, are the ones that are now suffering, the Deutsche Bank strategists added.
"There is no immediate signs that we are going to bounce back soon; markets are still quite some way from being oversold," said Guy Foster, head of portfolio strategy at Brewin Dolphin, which manages GBP26 billion ($43.6 billion) in assets.
"As we enter earnings season, there is plenty of potential catalysts for either further good or bad news," said Mr. Foster.
Earlier Friday, J.P. Morgan Chase reported disappointing first-quarter earnings, while Wells Fargo posted a rise in first-quarter net income even as the banking giant's revenue dropped from the year-earlier quarter.
Also on the agenda, the International Monetary Fund spring meetings kick off in Washington later.
Elsewhere, Fitch Ratings on Friday raised its outlook for Portugal to "positive" from "negative," citing the bailed-out euro-zone nation's strong economic recovery and falling budget deficit.
The move had little market impact, with the yield on Portugal's 10-year benchmark bond climbing 0.08 percentage point to 3.94%. Greek bonds, meanwhile, fell a day after the country's first sale of longer-term debt in four years. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Greek bond rose 0.34 percentage point to 6.206%.
In the currency market, the pound slumped 0.3% against the dollar, after data showed construction output fell 2.8% in February from January.
China was also in the spotlight after inflation came in just below expectations for March, suggesting domestic demand remains soft as the economy loses momentum. In addition, Premier Li Keqiang offered the strongest and most public signal yet that the country is bracing for a new low in growth. The comments that growth could be a bit higher or lower than the 7.5% target add to investors' concerns about the world's No. 2 economy after trade officials reported a surprise drop in exports on Thursday.
In commodities markets, gold fell 0.2% at $1,317.50 an ounce, and Brent crude oil was 0.2% higher at $107.74 a barrel.
In emerging markets, the Turkish lira was down around 0.7% against the buck Friday after ratings firm Moody's Investors Service cut its outlook on Turkey's Baa 3 government bond rating to negative from stable.
Write to Clare Connaghan at email@example.com and Neelabh Chaturvedi at firstname.lastname@example.org
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