Stock markets appear to be determined to ensure that February follows the pattern set out by January, with steep losses across the board. The week has seen European markets steadily lose ground, and with the retreat moving into its third day there is renewed risk that the panic selling which dominated at the beginning of the year will return to haunt markets.
For once, miners are not at the forefront of the selling in London. That dubious honour goes to banks, which are in full retreat on a heady cocktail of worries – faltering economic growth, concerns about contagion from energy stocks and diminishing expectations regarding a Fed move have all conspired to send bank shares down around the world.
GSK shares managed to hold onto their gains this afternoon, as the CEO managed to convince investors that its ongoing turnaround plan will yet bear much fruit. From this, to any potential spinoffs, to the debate on the Brexit, the pharma giant’s tone has been very much ‘steady as she goes’. While this isn’t fun for investment banks, investors should be relieved that at least this part of their portfolio remains dull but reliable.
A fourth consecutive weekly rise in US crude inventories has been an inevitable, if unnecessary, reminder that overwhelming supply is the key driver of falling crude prices. Oil has managed to hold its ground today, up from the overnight lows, but bounces continue to be aggressively sold. US economic data was uninspiring, with services sector numbers disappointing and a modest beat on ADP payrolls not enough to inspire confidence. As markets continue to discount the chances of another rate move, the Fed is starting to look dangerously behind the curve.