Stocks fall

Markets get jitters as China’s economy weakens

All eyes on the Chinese market

A slowing Chinese economy sent shivers through stock markets yesterday and raised concerns for companies exposed to the world’s second biggest economy.

British manufacturers trading products and components are on alert to the deteriorating outlook as downbeat figures over the past week have indicated that China’s economic slowdown is gathering pace.

Growing anxiety over China’s worsening property crisis also ended the seven-week bullish streak in the oil price as a weakening demand outlook led to its first weekly fall since mid-June.

China’s Evergrande Group filed for US bankruptcy protection as part of one of the world’s biggest debt restructurings.

While UK producers are less exposed than some countries to a weak Chinese recovery, there is concern that falling consumer demand could impact on sectors such as insurance and food & drink.

Figures last week showed sales of Scotch whisky to China shot up by 40% in the first half against a fall in total exports, but the new data will raise concerns that demand may not be sustainable.

The slump saw the overseas-focused FTSE 100 fall 47.48 points to close at 7262.43, taking its weekly loss to 3.5%, its worst one-week point and percentage decline since the beginning of July.

The index is down 5.7% since the beginning of this month and is 2.5% lower since the start of the year.

A looming crisis in the Chinese property market and a noticeable increase in US bond yields drove apprehensions of prolonged high interest rates, while a substantial decrease in UK retail sales further exacerbated the pessimistic outlook.

“Markets are being hit by the perfect storm, amid surging rates, worsening economic data in China, poor summer liquidity and a buyers’ strike,” said one analyst.

Among the biggest fallers were Prudential, down 3.2%, while Burberry fell 1.7%. Mining stocks took a hit, with Anglo American and Glencore both 1.8% lower.

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