Stock market selloffs accelerate; pound takes fresh tumble

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Global stocks mostly tumbled Friday to conclude a volatile week as investors fretted over inflation and worries about slowing growth despite a solid US jobs report.

The US economy added a better-than-expected 428,000 jobs in April, with the unemployment rate remaining at a low 3.6 percent, the Labor Department reported.

The data pointed to continued strong employment growth and contained hints that some inflationary pressures may be easing, with workers’ wages rising less than in March.

But investors remain anxious that rising prices and higher interest rates will hit consumers, slowing the economy’s expansion in the second half of 2022.

“There is a real concern about slowing growth and the possibility that the economy could tip into recession,” said Briefing.com analyst Patrick O’Hare.

Wall Street stocks flirted with positive territory at times, but finished lower, with the S&P 500 dropping 0.6 percent.

All three US indices ended with weekly losses, with the Nasdaq suffering the most at 1.5 percent.

Earlier, European indices also slumped, with London losing 1.5 percent, Frankfurt 1.6 percent and Paris 1.7 percent.

“A sinking feeling has taken over financial markets at the end of a volatile week,” said Hargreaves Lansdown analyst Susannah Streeter.

“Investors are digesting the unpalatable implications of inflation and fretting that there will be a need for a bigger dose of the bitter medicine being administered to try and bring it under control.”

Asian equities tumbled after steep Wall Street losses Thursday, as traders contemplated a period of fierce monetary tightening by the US Federal Reserve.

Meanwhile, the pound hit a two-year low at $1.2276, one day after the Bank of England warned that UK inflation would top 10 percent and the economy would contract later this year.

The euro jumped to 85.92 pence, which was last seen late in 2021.

Crude prices rebounded after key producers led by Saudi Arabia and Russia refused to lift output more than their planned marginal increase as they weighed tight supply concerns caused by Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Oil prices have also gotten support from a proposed European Union ban on Russian crude in the wake of the Ukraine invasion.

“If EU efforts to ban Russian crude and products are able to continue moving forward, it would mark the most significant measure directly targeting Russian energy exports amid a wave of sanctions,” said a note from Robbie Fraser of Schneider Electric.

“Replacing Russian crude volumes is a significant logistical challenge.”

– Key figures at around 2050 GMT –

New York – Dow: DOWN 0.3 percent at 32,899.37 (close)

New York – S&P 500: DOWN 0.6 percent at 4,123.34 (close)

New York – Nasdaq: DOWN 1.4 percent at 12,144.66 (close)

London – FTSE 100: DOWN 1.5 percent at 7,387.94 (close)

Frankfurt – DAX: DOWN 1.6 percent at 13,674.29 (close)

Paris – CAC 40: DOWN 1.7 percent at 6,258.36 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 1.8 percent at 3,629.17 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng Index: DOWN 3.8 percent at 20,001.96 (close)

Shanghai – Composite: DOWN 2.2 percent at 3,001.56 (close)

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 0.7 percent at 27,003.56 (close)

Brent North Sea crude: UP 1.3 percent at $112.39 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: UP 1.4 percent at $109.77 per barrel

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.0556 from $1.0542 on Thursday

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2339 from $1.2362

Euro/pound: UP at 85.52 pence from 85.28 pence

Dollar/yen: UP at 130.56 yen from 130.20 yen

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