Fear has taken hold in equity markets after China's industrial production plummeted, sparking a selloff that spread globally. Cracks in the European economy are also continuing to show, weighing on those region's equities.
China's November industrial production growth eased sharply from 5.9% to 5.4%, the lowest level since 2009. The data pointed to weak performance in key export sectors such as computers, electronics and autos.
Retail growth also eased, growing at 8.1%, which is the weakest pace in 15 years, says Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell.
China's November trade data indicated signs of weaker growth in the rest of the world. Export growth declined from 15.5% to 5.4% with shipments to the EU and ASEAN countries showing weakness while exports to the US dropped to 9.8% from 13.2%, according to Societe Generale.
"There have been some troublesome figures coming out of China in 2018 and another batch has now served to drag down markets in Asia and Europe," Mould said. "China is finding it hard to sustain high levels of economic growth. There is some concern that the impact of the US-China trade war has yet to be properly felt, suggesting that China's economic data could be in for more shocks in early 2019 unless the countries secure a permanent truce."
Problems are also rumbling in Europe. Fears about Italy's budget remained front and center on Friday after the European Union suggested there was more to be done on the country's budget deficit. British Prime Minister Theresa May was rebuffed by EU leaders in her attempts to renegotiate her Brexit deal. Germany's problems continued with composite PMI numbers sliding in December.
It follows an already subdued mood in Europe. The European Central Bank announced Thursday that it cut its economic growth forecasts and would end its bond buying stimulus program. France's yellow-vest protests are harming the country's economy.
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