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European stocks stumble on gloomy Lagarde, oil retreat


STOCK-NIG-CopyEurope’s main stock markets stumbled in quiet trade on Wednesday, the last full trading day of the year, with many investors absent for holidays.

Sentiment was dented after the head of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, warned that global economic growth will be “disappointing and patchy” in 2016.

In late morning deals, London equities dipped 0.4 percent, Frankfurt also fell 0.4 percent, but Paris clawed back earlier losses to add 0.02 percent.

The region’s markets had risen on Tuesday on steadier oil prices, which also lifted Wall Street overnight.

However, sentiment took a knock earlier in Asia as oil prices also hit reverse gear before weekly US inventories data.

“After an energised start to the week, things are looking far more sluggish (with) the European indices,” said Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell.

“Kicking off the day with a warning from Christine Lagarde that global growth in 2016 would be disappointing of course did not help matters.

“The IMF chief pointed to the US rate hike decision and the continued slowdown in China as potential destabilisers in the New Year, helping dismiss yesterday’s cheerful trading to set a rather glum tone for the markets this Wednesday.”

Rising US interest rates, China’s slowdown and the effects of low oil prices on producer countries “all mean that global growth in 2016 will be disappointing and patchy”, Lagarde wrote in an article for German business daily Handelsblatt.

“And the medium-term outlook has clouded over, too, because low productivity, ageing populations and the fallout from the global financial crisis are putting the brakes on growth,” she added.

– Asia wobbles on oil –
Asian markets had a see-saw day, with trading volatile as oil prices retreated, but Tokyo ended on a high note as one of the best performers of 2015.

A brief early rally in Asia gave way to selling in light-volume deals as crude resumed its decline on the back of demand worries and oversupply.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index finished 0.53 percent lower, while Shanghai squeaked out a 0.26 percent gain.

Seoul lost 0.25 percent by the close, Singapore was down 0.18 percent and Taiwan fell 0.17 percent.

On the upside, Tokyo’s benchmark Nikkei 225 ticked up 0.27 percent on Japan’s last trading day of the year.

The index climbed more than nine percent in 2015 to rank among the world’s top-performing major markets, outpacing most of its rivals in the US and Asia-Pacific.

Japan’s financial markets will be closed Thursday and Friday, reopening on January 4 after the New Year’s holiday.

Meanwhile, Sydney finished 1.0 percent higher and Wellington closed up 0.43 percent.

The broad decline in Asia followed a tech-driven rally on Wall Street, where upbeat US data lifted the mood.

Online retailer Amazon closed at a new record, gaining for a second day after announcing record holiday sales via its premium delivery service.

Meanwhile, the US Conference Board’s index of consumer confidence rose to 96.5 in December from 92.6 the prior month.

The report offered an upbeat view on the world’s top economy following the Fed’s interest rate hike announcement earlier this month.

– Key figures around 1100 GMT –
London – FTSE 100: DOWN 0.3 percent at 6,293 points from Tuesday’s close.

Paris – CAC 40: UP 0.02 percent at 4,702 points

Frankfurt – DAX 30: DOWN 0.4 percent at 10,818

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.1 percent at 3,310

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 0.27 percent at 19,033.71 (close)

New York – Dow: UP 1.1 percent at 17,720.98 (close)

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.0929 from $1.0921 late Tuesday

Dollar/yen: UP to 120.48 yen from 120.47 yen

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