Canada retail sales decline for the first time in 7 months, Global stocks have sold off for a second straight week, weighed down by concerns over higher interest rates and the health of the economy, while oil prices declined to levels last traded before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The FTSE All-World index of global stocks fell 2.1 per cent on Friday, bringing its loss over the week to 5 per cent, the worst since June.
Wall Street’s benchmark S&P 500 stock index finished the week down 4.6 per cent Windows 11 22H2 causing, while the tech-dominated Nasdaq Composite shed 4.16 per cent. Europe’s Stoxx 600 registered a daily loss of 2.3 per cent on Friday to officially enter “bear market” territory — typically defined as having declined 20 per cent or more from a recent peak.
The moves came at the end of a tumultuous week dominated by hawkish central bank updates as policymakers try to stamp out soaring inflation.
The US Federal Reserve led the charge on Wednesday, extending its most aggressive campaign to tighten monetary policy since 1981 with a third consecutive 0.75 percentage point interest rate increase while signalling further rises in the coming months.
The Bank of England responded to its own inflation crisis by raising rates by a half-point on Thursday to 2.25, but the less-aggressive action it took compared with central bank peers helped undermine sterling. Switzerland’s central bank took a cue from the Fed and opted for the more aggressive 0.75 percentage point option in a move that brought an end to the era of negative rates in Europe.
Central bankers in Indonesia, the Philippines, Taiwan, South Africa and Norway also followed suit this week, underscoring the enormity of the global pivot towards tighter monetary policy.
Concerns about the economic outlook were also reflected in oil prices, with international benchmark Brent crude dropping 4.8 per cent to $86.15 a barrel — its lowest level since January.
Sterling was on track for one of its biggest weekly drops against the dollar on record, after the UK government’s announcement of a huge tax package added to market worries following a smaller-than-expected rate rise from Britain’s central bank.
Trading at a 37-year low of $1.086 on Friday afternoon in New York, the pound has shed about 4.8 per cent this week.
That puts the UK currency on track for its biggest weekly drop since the declaration of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020 and currently ranks as the 10th largest, according to Financial Times analysis of Refinitiv data back to 1971.
The pound’s biggest weekly drop was in the week ended September 18, 1992, in the wake of ‘Black Wednesday’, when the UK was forced to withdraw from the European exchange rate mechanism.
The recent bout of weakness in the pound was exacerbated on Friday after the UK government revealed a £45bn debt financed tax-cutting package that sparked a historic increase in borrowing costs. Sterling tumbled to a 37-year low below $1.09.
The currency had already been under pressure this week as a result of the diverging levels of aggressiveness in global central banks’ efforts to tame inflation.
The pound weakened on Wednesday after the US Federal Reserve raised interest rates by 0.75 percentage points, prompting a rally in the dollar. It fell further on Thursday when the Bank of England raised rates by a half-point in a move that fell short of the relatively bolder moves other policymakers around the world took this week.
A senior Meta executive told a British inquest that the company had allowed “graphic” images of self-harm on its Instagram site at the time a teenager died by suicide because it wanted to enable users to “cry for help”.
Molly Russell from Harrow, London, died in November 2017 after viewing a large volume of posts on sites such as Meta-owned Instagram, and Pinterest, related to anxiety, depression, suicide and self-harm.
Meta’s head of health and wellbeing policy, Elizabeth Lagone, told the North London coroner’s court on Friday that graphic images Instagram allowed users to share at the time of Russell’s death, could have been “cries for help” and the platform wanted people to “seek community”.