Global stocks mostly fell in cautious trading on Wednesday, with the Nikkei 225 index in Tokyo down nearly 3%, after shares on Wall Street plunged to a new low for the year.
France’s CAC 40 index rose 0.1 percent to 7138.95, while Germany’s DAX fell 0.3 percent to 15,720.91. Britain’s FTSE 100 index fell 0.1 percent to 7,556.70 points. Dow Jones Industrial Average and Standard & Poor’s 500 futures were down 0.1%.
Technology shares led the decline Tuesday on Wall Street, with the S&P 500 losing 1.8%. The Nasdaq, heavily weighted by technology stocks, is down 2.6%, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average is down 1.5%. The Russell 2000 Index fell 3.1% to 2,096.23.
Losses in global indices escalated this month with rising inflation and the recent rise of the pandemic prompting investors to be cautious.
The Federal Reserve and other central banks are under pressure to curb inflation after US consumer prices rose last month at their fastest pace in nearly 40 years. Meanwhile, the US labor market rebounded, leaving the unemployment rate last month at a pandemic low of 3.9%. This gives the Federal Reserve more freedom to rein in the unprecedented support it has been providing to the economy since the outbreak of the pandemic.
Higher rates can help curb inflation, but they will also put an end to the conditions that have put markets in an “easy position” for many investors since early 2020.
The Japanese benchmark Nikkei 225 index fell 2.8% to end at 27467.23, its lowest closing level since August, on heavy selling of major manufacturing companies such as Toyota Motor Corp, which lost 5%.
Sony Corp. fell. by 12.8% after announcing Tuesday that Microsoft will pay $68.7 billion to Activision Blizzard, the maker of Candy Crush and Call of Duty, as it seeks an edge in the fiercely competitive business of mobile games and virtual reality technology.
The deal will turn Microsoft, the maker of the Xbox game system, into one of the world’s largest video game companies and help it compete with tech rivals like Meta, formerly Facebook, in creating immersive virtual worlds for work and play.
Shares of Japanese video game maker Nintendo lost just 0.2%. Activision Blizzard stock rose 25.9% on Tuesday.
In other Asian trading, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index fell 1.0% to 7,332.50. South Korea’s Kospi fell 0.8 percent to 2,842.28. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 0.1% to 24127.85, while the Shanghai Composite lost 0.3% to 3,558.18.
Market players are watching the latest earnings releases, as Bank of America, United Health and United Airlines announced results on Wednesday. Earnings for American Airlines, Union Pacific and Netflix are due Thursday.
In energy trading, US crude added 72 cents to $85.55 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It closed up 1.9 percent at $84.83 a barrel, its highest level in seven years, on Tuesday.
Brent crude, the international benchmark, rose 59 cents to $88.10 a barrel.
In currency trading, the US dollar fell to 114.48 Japanese yen from 114.61 yen. The euro rose to $1.1349 from $1.1327.
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