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FTSE extends decline and Wall Street nears bear market amid global sell-off

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The FTSE 100 fell sharply on Monday and Wall Street stocks sank as inflation and economic worries mount. Photo: Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty
The FTSE 100 fell sharply on Monday and Wall Street stocks sank as inflation and economic worries mount. Photo: Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty

European and US stocks extended declines on Monday as markets price the prospects for hawkish interest rate hikes from the US Federal Reserve and the Bank of England as inflationary and economic pressure take hold.

The FTSE 100 (^FTSE) hit a one-month low, dropping 1.5% to 7205.81, France’s CAC (^FCHI) was 2.7% lower on the day and the DAX (^GDAXI) fell 2.4% in Frankfurt.

London's blue-chip index was dragged lower after the latest economic gauge for the UK's economy showed gross domestic product (GDP) shrank 0.3% in April.

The figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reflect the impact of the 54% jump in the energy price cap in April, exacerbating the cost of living crisis for British households as inflation spirals.

Read more: UK economy shrinks in April as households struggle against cost of living

April’s contraction means the UK economy is now just 0.9% larger than before the first pandemic lockdown in spring 2020, with services, production and construction all shrinking during the period.

This is the first time that all main sectors have contributed negatively to a monthly GDP estimate since January 2021, according to the ONS.

Monday's numbers mount pressure on Threadneedle Street as it grapples with surging inflation and slowing growth.

The Monetary Policy Committee is expected to raise interest rates by 25 basis points to 1.25% at its meeting on Thursday.

Sterling (GBPUSD=X) fell to its lowest level in a month against the greenback as the outlook for the economy darkens, declining 1.1% to $1.218. Against the euro (EURGBP=X) it's wiped out its gains, down 0.1% to 85p.

"Once again in 2022 the FTSE 100 is doing a smidge better than other global markets but, before UK investors get too excited, a big slide in sterling is a significant contributing factor to the outperformance,” said Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell.

"The FTSE 100’s relative resilience today is supported by its bevy of exporters, whose overseas earnings are boosted by the falling pound – the currency is in freefall as a shock drop in GDP raises fears of a recession."

Read more: Pound loses ground against dollar as UK economy contracts

Across the Atlantic, US benchmarks opened in a sea of red after posting their worst decline since January on Friday.

It comes as a higher-than-expected inflation print hammers stocks and bond prices, heightening fears the Fed could be forced to take aggressive action to tame surging consumer prices.

Wall Street’s S&P 500 (^GSPC) lost 119.82 points, or 3.1%, to 3781.04, sending it into bear territory as it tumbled 20% below its January record.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq (^IXIC) crashed 3.9%, while the Dow (^DJI) declined 2.2% at London's close.

US inflation hit a new 40-year high in May, driven higher by food and energy prices in a worrying sign that price rises have further to run. The consumer price index (CPI) rose to 8.6% in May, ahead of economists' forecasts of 8.3%.

Separate figures also showed consumer confidence slumped to a record low as surging inflation takes a toll on household finances. The University of Michigan's preliminary June sentiment index fell to 50.2 from 58.4 in May.

The yield on the two-year note, which tends to climb with investors’ expectations for rate lifts, hit its highest level in more than a decade. The yield on the benchmark 10-year US Treasury note — usually a key indicator that a recession is coming — reached the highest since November 2018.

Read more: UK government urged to prioritise business investment to avoid recession

Richard Hunter, head of markets at Interactive Investor, said: "The latest inflation print proved too hot to handle, prompting investors to scramble for cover in anticipation of a more aggressive set of central bank moves.

"As such, the Federal Reserve decision on Wednesday takes on added significance. While investors were relatively comfortable with a likely hike of 0.5%, the fresh inflationary pressure has had some questioning whether a rise of 0.75% could be on the table.

"In turn, this would reignite concerns — which had never been far away — that a newly determined round of aggressive monetary tightening could crimp economic growth, to the extent that the spectre of recession emerges."

Asian stocks fell sharply overnight as the sell-off in European and US markets extends.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei (^N225) tumbled 3%, while the Hang Seng (^HSI) slumped 3.4% in Hong Kong and the Shanghai Composite (000001.SS) lost 0.9%.

Watch: What is a recession and how do we spot one?

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