U.S. markets extended their declines into a second session overnight amid renewed concerns over the start date for Fed stimulus tapering.
Stocks opened lower before accelerating their losses into the close of trading after Ben Bernanke hinted stimulus tapering may occur sooner than initially thought, potentially before the end of this year.
Data also showed Chicago-area manufacturing activity surging way more than expected in October, but investors believed this more of an anomaly in light of the other less-than-impressive US economic numbers.
The Dow lost 73 points (-0.5%) to 15546, the S&P500 shed six points (-0.4%) to 1757 and the Nasdaq let go of 11 points (-0.3%) to 3920.
In Europe, data revealed a surprise contraction in German and French retail spending in September, and the eurozone jobless rate remaining stuck at a record high of 12.2%.
Still, the German and French markets defied the economic gloom, closing higher on bets the data will force the ECB to maintain its easy money policies for longer.
The DAX added 0.3%, the CAC put on 0.6%, whilst the UK’s FTSE declined 0.7%.
There were mostly declines in commodity markets, with gold nosediving on fears the Fed will scale back stimulus as soon as December, defying expectations of a 2014 start date for tapering.
Oil was also weaker, ending a horror month that saw crude tumble almost six percent. The declines were driven primarily by a surge in weekly US crude stockpiles and mixed economic data.
Gold sank 1.9% to US$1324 an ounce and oil futures backtracked 0.4% to US$96.38 a barrel. The euro was the big mover in currency markets, tumbling against the US dollar following the terrible economic numbers out of Germany and France.
In today’s economic news, the third quarter domestic Producer Price Index is slated for release at 11:30am, AEDT.