European stocks declined the most in five weeks, paring yesterday’s biggest rally for the region’s benchmark index in almost a month, as U.S. manufacturing activity fell faster than estimated, and companies in the world’s largest economy added fewer workers than forecast.
The benchmark Stoxx Europe 600 Index retreated 0.9% to 294.8 at the close of trading after climbing 1.3% in the previous session on better-than-estimated U.S. factory orders data.
In London the UK’s FTSE 100 slumped 70 points (-1.1%) to settle at 6420, whilst the German DAX shed 69 points (-0.9%) to close at 7875. Stateside, the Dow plummeted 112 points (-0.8%) to settle at 14550, whilst the broader S&P gave up 17 points (-1.1%) to 1554.
In economic news, companies boosted employment by 158,000 workers in March, figures from the ADP Research Institute showed overnight.
The median forecast of 39 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a 200,000 gain.
The data comes before tomorrow night’s non-farm payrolls report from the Labor Department, which may show employers hired a net 195,000 workers for the month, according to the median forecast of 87 economists surveyed by Bloomberg.
In other economic news, ISM’s index of U.S. non-manufacturing businesses, which covers almost 90% of the economy, fell to 54.4 in March from 56 in the prior month.
The median forecast of 73 economists surveyed by Bloomberg was 55.5. Readings above 50 signal expansion.
In the commodity space, gold dropped to the lowest since June, leaving prices on the brink of a bear market, as signs of slowing U.S. economic growth sparked a drop in equities and commodities.
Elsewhere, silver fell to an eight-month low whilst crude tumbled the most in 2013 after the government reported U.S. oil stockpiles increased to the highest level in more than 22 years.
The yen climbed versus all of its 16 most-traded peers amid speculation a decision tomorrow by the Bank of Japan will signal its monetary-easing efforts will fall short of its goals and fail to reignite inflation. Today’s session will bring us data in the form of building approvals and retail sales (11:30am, AEST).