Share markets fell sharply on Thursday as investors piled back into safer assets, unnerved by the twin setbacks of unexpected weakness in China’s economy and signals that the U.S. central bank may soon scale back its stimulus program.
The yen bounced sharply off recent lows and German Bunds rose, gaining support from a shift in sentiment that followed Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke’s comment that the bank may trim its bond purchases at one of its next policy meetings.
A surprise drop in Chinese factory activity in May, followed by data pointing to a second quarter economic contraction in the euro zone, added to investors’ worries.
The revived concerns about global growth sent Oil and copper prices lower, and MSCI’s world equity index .MIWD00000PUS fell 1.2 percent, putting it on course for its worst day of the month.
Japan’s main Nikkei share index earlier plunged 7.3 percent, its biggest one-day percentage drop in two years and calling a halt to a rally driven by aggressive stimulus measures that the Bank of Japan unveiled in April.
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