Global stocks down on recovery, Ebola worries

AP and AFP

South Korea/HONG KONG–Global stock markets were lower on Thursday amid worries about the strength of U.S. and European recoveries and the first American case of Ebola.

Britain’s FTSE 100 index fell 0.5 percent to 6,527.51 points and Germany’s DAX declined 0.4 percent to 9,345.99. France’s CAC 40 dropped 0.5 percent to 4,343.72. Futures augured a lukewarm start for Wall Street, with the Dow Jones industrial average and the Standard & Poor’s 500 both down 0.2 percent

Caution prevailed among investors ahead of a meeting of European Central Bank (ECB) policymakers. Though no change in interest rates is anticipated, there will be great interest in what ECB President Mario Draghi says about possible monetary stimulus following recent weak economic news in Europe. Draghi is expected Thursday to underline the bank’s willingness to deploy more economic stimulus measures, a stance that could send the euro skidding even lower.

The U.S. Labor Department is due to report the number of people who applied for unemployment benefits last week. Economists forecast that weekly applications rose a slight 5,000 to a seasonally adjusted 298,000. The Commerce Department will report August factory orders. Orders in July rose 10.5 percent in their biggest one-month gain since 1992.

A survey showed German manufacturing unexpectedly contracted in September for the first time in 15 months, the latest sign Europe is being hurt by sanctions imposed on Russia over its role in Ukraine.

A closely watched monthly survey by the Institute for Supply Management came in below expectations, helping to drive a selloff on Wall Street.

U.S. airlines were among the hardest hit as investors fretted people would be discouraged from traveling after reports of the country’s first case of Ebola.

“Confirmation of a case of Ebola in the U.S. has joined a growing list of bad news stories with geo-political tensions in Ukraine and Hong Kong, and growth concerns around China and Europe sapping risk appetite,” said Niall King of CMC Markets in a commentary.

Asian markets sank Thursday following a heavy sell-off on Wall Street. Tokyo tumbled 2.61 percent, or 420.26 points, at 15,661.99 and Seoul lost 0.77 percent, or 15.38 points, to close at 1,976.16 and Sydney eased 0.68 percent, or 36.43 points, to 5,297.7.