February 15, 2019 / 1:14 AM / 10 months ago

European shares recover after weak data wobble

LONDON (Reuters) - European shares recovered on Friday after weak U.S. and Chinese economic data earlier sent global equity markets into a dive.

FILE PHOTO: Traders work at their desks in front of the German share price index, DAX board, at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, June 24, 2016 after Britain voted to leave the European Union in the EU BREXIT referendum. REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski

After opening lower, Europe’s STOXX 600 nudged up 0.2 percent despite weakness in German equities. Demand for safe-haven currencies remained strong.

Stocks fell after a U.S. report that retail sales had dropped in December to their lowest since 2009 and by data on Chinese producer prices, which were little changed for a seventh straight month in January.

Germany’s main stock index, which is exposed to the Chinese economy because of its large number of exporters, was down 0.2 percent by 0932 GMT. It had fallen as much as 0.5 percent.

European car stocks, a bellwether for the continent’s economy, fell 1 percent as sales dropped and the deadline approached for a U.S. Commerce Department that could lead to the imposition of tariffs.

“After hot markets of late, a little bit of cold water has been poured on bourses over the last 24 hours,” said Deutsche Bank’s strategist Jim Reid.

The slow start in European shares reflected nerves across global equity markets. MSCI’s world equity index, which tracks shares in 47 countries, was flat.

Emerging markets were set for their first back-to-back weekly loss since late last year. The MSCIEF index of emerging market stocks dropped 0.8 percent.

Investors in Asia took fright early after the U.S. retail sales report. Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 1.1 percent as market in Seoul, Tokyo and Shanghai all lost ground.

Worries about the United States, which many considered a bright spot in the world economy, offset some optimism over trade talks in Beijing between the United States and China.

The two top U.S. negotiators were due to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday, but no decision has been taken to extend a March 1 deadline for a deal.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a tweet on Friday that he and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer had “productive meetings” with China’s Vice Premier Liu He.

SAFE HAVEN

The Japanese yen and other safe-haven currencies made gains as the market awaited developments in the trade talks. The dollar remained fairly robust in spite of the U.S. retail figures, trading up 0.2 percent at 97.1 against a basket of major currencies.

The euro was 0.2 percent lower at $1.1278 and headed for a second week of losses. It is down by 1.7 percent so far this year after discouraging economic data from the euro zone.

The 10-year U.S. Treasuries yield fell to 2.6483 percent, wiping out most of its rise this week.

FILE PHOTO: Men look at stock quotation boards outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan, December 5, 2018. REUTERS/Issei Kato

Commodities diverged from wider market trends. Crude oil briefly reached 2019 highs above $65 per barrel after OPEC-led supply cuts and a bigger-than-expected cut by Saudi Arabia this week encouraged investors.

The global Brent benchmark last traded at $64.75, up 18 cents, or 0.28 percent, from the last close. It has risen 4.5 percent this week.

For Reuters Live Markets blog on European and UK stock markets, please click on: [LIVE/]

Reporting by Tom Wilson, additional reporting by Marc Jones and Helen Reid; editing by Larry King

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