European Stocks Decline as China’s Economic Growth Hits 28-Year Low
European stocks traded lower on Monday amid news that China’s economic expansion reached its slowest pace in nearly three decades, casting a dark shadow over the health of the global economy.
Europe Sees Red
All of Europe’s major stock indexes traded lower in the afternoon session. The pan-European Stoxx 600 fell 0.3%, reflecting weakness across the continent.
Germany’s benchmark DAX Index fell 0.6%. In Paris, the CAC 40 Index languished 0.2%. Spain’s IBEX 35 Index also dropped 0.2%. The FTSE 100 Index in London pared losses to trade flat.
The weak European session followed strong gains in Asia, where traders remained optimistic about China’s new stimulus plan. Last week, the Chinese government pledged to lower taxes and increased federal expenditures in 2019 as a way to shore up economic growth. Meanwhile, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) said it will make monetary policy easier to gauge moving forward.
Drama surrounding Brexit also weighed on European stocks as British Prime Minister Theresa May prepared to unveil a new plan to withdraw from the EU. May’s Brexit bill was shot down in British parliament last week. A parliamentary bloc tried to oust her from power by forcing a no-confidence vote that the prime minister subsequently survived.
British lawmakers will vote on May’s Plan B on Jan. 29. According to early reports, the new plan is unlikely to be much different than the previous bill tabled to parliament.
China’s Economic Headwinds
The Chinese economy is coming off its slowest year of growth since 1990, a warning sign for investors banking on continued global expansion. The world’s second-largest economy grew 6.6% in 2018, in line with expectations but a substantial drop compared with previous years.
China’s economic grew 6.4% annually in the fourth quarter, which is an extension of a downtrend that began to emerge roughly five years ago.
Retail sales grew 8.2% annually in December, slightly higher than the November rate. During the same month, industrial production picked up to 5.7% annually, up from 5.4% in November. Annual fixed asset investment was unchanged at 5.9%.
Beijing is prepared to make big concessions in its ongoing trade negotiations with the United States. As CCN reported Friday, China has offered to completely eliminate its trade surplus with Washington by purchasing an additional $1 trillion in American-made goods. The additional purchases will be made over a six-year period.
Last year, China’s trade surplus with Washington amounted to $323 billion.
Talks between the two superpowers are expected to continue over the next six weeks as negotiators look to get a deal done during the 90-day truce period. President Donald Trump and Chinese Xi Jinping agreed to de-escalate trade hostilities during a face-to-face meeting in Argentina in early December.
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