HONG KONG — Investors hoping for a fresh start in 2019 could be in for a disappointment.
Markets in Asia sank on Wednesday, the first full trading day of the year, after weak economic data from China reminded investors of the softening outlook for the global economy. The pessimism continued in Europe, where markets opened down across the board.
The CAC 40 in France fell 2.3 percent at the open, although it had inched back its loss to 1.7 percent by late morning. The Dax in Germany opened 1.2 percent lower, but also eased its fall and was down 0.25 percent heading into the afternoon. The FTSE 100 in London was down less than 1 percent by late morning.
Futures trading predicting how Wall Street would open on Wednesday painted a similarly gloomy picture.
Investors had been looking for a respite from last year, when markets in the United States fell more than 6 percent and many global indexes fell by more. Slowing global economic growth, higher interest rates in the United States, the simmering trade war between Washington and Beijing, and rising uncertainty in American politics all soured investors.
On Wednesday, their mood didn’t improve.
Bad economic news from China set the tone for Asia, where stocks fell on every major exchange that was open. Factory activity in China shrank in December, according to government and private measures released this week. The dour numbers indicate that the trade war between China and the United States was beginning to weigh on the Chinese manufacturing sector.
In Europe, morning trading also started on a pessimistic note. The latest manufacturing data for the eurozone released on Wednesday showed an across-the-board slowdown in December. The Euro Stoxx 50 was down more than 1 percent by late morning.
The Hang Seng in Hong Kong dropped 2.8 percent. In China, the Shanghai Composite index fell 1.2 percent and the Shenzhen Composite index closed 0.9 percent lower
The Taiex index in Taiwan fell 1.8 percent, while the Kospi in South Korea was down 1.5 percent. Japan’s markets were closed for a holiday.
Many investors had hoped the poor sentiment that weighed on markets at the end of December might dissipate in 2019, particularly on Wall Street, where the underlying American economy is still viewed as sound.
But the poor data from China highlighted the risks of a continuing trade war, as well as slowing global growth. In the United States, increased borrowing costs could also weigh on stock prices, while uncertainty surrounding Britain’s departure from the European Union continues to unnerve investors. The pound, a barometer of concern surrounding Brexit, fell to $1.2674.