European share markets have closed lower, with investors hesitant after recent gains on concerns over China and the eurozone and data showed the British economy in worse shape than first thought.
The British economy contracted 0.3% in the final three months of 2011 compared to the previous quarter, the U.K. Office for National Statistics reported Wednesday. The ONS had previously estimated a 0.2% quarterly contraction.
The UK’s current account deficit narrowed in Q4 following a sharp downward revision to the shortfall in the previous quarter, figures from National Statistics revealed Wednesday. The current account deficit narrowed to GBP8.451 billion in Q4 from GBP10.515 billion in Q3, in line with the median forecast. Revisions to UK investment abroad data meant that the Q3 shortfall was revised lower from an initially estimated GBP15.226 billion figure.
Brokers said the losses might reflect profit-taking following a strong start to the year but there have been some signs that the recent momentum has slowed.
At the same time, there remain concerns over the China and Europe outlooks and news that Britain’s economy contracted 0.3 per cent in the fourth quarter last year, after an original estimate of 0.2 per cent, hit sentiment. A muted opening on Wall Street after a weaker-than-expected durable goods orders report provided no lead, with investors wondering if the US Federal Reserve may need to take even more measures to boost the economy.
Comments by Fed chief Ben Bernanke that record low interest rates will have to stay low for some time to come drove recent gains but they have also given some pause for thought about the underlying strength of the recovery.
In London, the FTSE 100 index closed down 1.03 per cent at 5808.99 points. In Germany, the DAX 30 fell 1.13 per cent to 6998.80 points and in France the CAC dipped 1.14 per cent to 3430.15 points.
US stocks dropped into negative territory as investors were disappointed by US and European economic data, while also digesting Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke’s repeating of his view that high unemployment is holding back growth.
The Dow Jones was down 98.91 points, or 0.75 per cent, to 13,098.82 points. The S&P 500 lost 11.29 points, or 0.80 per cent, to 1,401.23 points. The Nasdaq fell 22.95 points, or 0.74 per cent, to 3,097.40 points.
Fed Chief Bernanke’s comments late on Tuesday that US economic growth remains held back by weak employment , leaves the market hoping for more quantitative easing) to spur growth.
A below forecast in durable goods orders in February from January’s surprise decline seemed to underscore Mr. Bernanke’s concerns.
Initial orders for durable goods rose 2.2 per cent in February, reversing the revised 3.6 per cent dive in January, the Commerce Department reported.
Gold and Crude Oil also fell today.