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EUROPE MARKETS: European Stocks Head For Worst Week In 2 Years As Global Selloff Continues

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02/09/2018 | 04:31pm CET

By Sara Sjolin, MarketWatch

Pare losses after U.S. opens with sharp gains

European stocks trimmed sharp losses in choppy Friday trade, after Wall Street surged at the open, partly rebounding after a plunge on Thursday that yanked both the S&P 500 index and Dow into correction territory.

Stocks in Europe, however, were still on track for their worst week in two years.

What are markets doing?

The Stoxx Europe 600 index fell 0.7% to 371.68, building on a 1.6% loss from Thursday . The pan-European benchmark is now on track for a 4.2% weekly decline, which would be its biggest since February 2016.

Germany's DAX 30 index gave up 0.8% to 12,169.24, sliding into correction territory from its record high of 13,559.60 hit on Jan. 23. A correction is defined as a pullback from a recent peak of least 10%. For the week, the index was on track for a 4.8% loss.

France's CAC 40 index sank 0.8% to 5,108.71, and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index gave up 0.7% to 7,125.28 . The two benchmarks were set for weekly losses of 4.8% and 4.3%, respectively.

The euro rose to $1.2255, up from $1.2249 late Thursday in New York.

What is driving the market?

The weakness in Europe followed Wall Street's Thursday plunge, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbling more than 1,000 points . That was the second time this week the U.S. blue-chip index logged a four-digit slide, having shed 1,175 points on Monday when the selloff set in.

After a bouncy futures session, U.S. stocks opened with firm gains on Friday , helping European markets recover from intraday lows.

The U.S. slump on Thursday also continued into Asian stock markets, which wrapped up their worst week in years . Chinese stocks were hammered, with the Shanghai Composite Index sliding 4.1%.

Seen as driving the action were concerns over rising volatility and worries that faster-than-expected inflation could lead to more Federal Reserve interest-rate hikes this year than expected. Analysts have also noted that stocks globally were due for a pullback after scoring big gains in 2017 and in January.

Investors were also watching developments in Washington, where the U.S. government briefly shut down just past midnight. The House of Representatives voted early Friday for a two-year budget deal, approving a package that would reopen the federal government . The House followed the Senate in approving the sweeping bill, which would also suspend the debt limit through March 1, 2019. President Donald Trump tweeted that he had signed the bill.

What are analysts saying?

"It would appear that the brief respite for stocks seen in the middle of the week turned out to be the eye of the storm, as once again rising bond yields prompted a further bout of selling across the board, not only in the U.S. last night but in Asia again this morning," said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK, in a note.

"Concerns about rising interest rates weren't helped by an unexpectedly hawkish inflation report from the Bank of England yesterday, while the latest Chinese trade data suggested that the Chinese economy appeared to be ticking along nicely, even if the trade surplus did shrink quite sharply as a result of a big jump in import," he added.

Which stocks are in focus?

Shares of A.P. Moeller-Maersk AS (MAERSK-B.KO) lost 0.6% after the Danish shipping company reported fourth-quarter profit below analyst forecasts .

Banks, which have been among hardest hit stocks in the selloff, extended their slump on Friday. The Stoxx 600 Banks Index fell 1.2%, deepening its weekly loss to 4.1%.

On an upbeat note, shares of L'Oréal SA (OR.FR) climbed 1.6% after the French cosmetics group posted fourth-quarter sales that blast past expectations.

Economic news

French industrial production rose slightly more-than-expected in December, climbing 0.5%. Meanwhile, in the U.K. industrial production fell 1.3% in December due to an emergency shutdown of a major North Sea pipeline.

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