A spate of weak manufacturing data around the world, a weaker global growth and rampant uncertainties have pushed commodities lower en masse. China's manufacturing sector contracted at its fastest rate in more than three years in January, while the U.S. equivalent sector tumbled for the fourth consecutive month. The Eurozone's data also disappointed markets, completing a gloomy picture across the globe.
As for oil prices, negatives were doubled, as expectations of a deal between Russia and Saudi Arabia to cut production were put back, while forecasts of a milder weather in the U.S. fanned fears of weak demand in the rest of winter ahead. Brent crude futures lost a heavy 74 cents, or 2.18% to trade at $33.50 a barrel, while U.S. crude futures tumbled eighty cents, or 2.53% to $30.84, threatening to go under the crucial level of $30 again.
Metals weren't luckier, even the precious of them, with gold futures slipping two dollars, or about 0.20% to $1,126 an ounce. Silver futures dropped six cents, or 0.40% to $14.28 an ounce. Copper, a crucial industrial metal, gave up 0.60% to trade at $2.050 a pound.
As for Asian equity markets, they were mixed, with Chinese shares rallying 2,23% in short-covering and hopes of more stimulus from the government. Other markets were tipped lower, with Japan's Nikkei sliding 0.90%. Australian shares wrote off one percent, South Korea's KOSPI dipped 0.40%, while Hong Kong's shares eased 0.83%.
Wall Street closed largely flat on Monday, as energy shares plunged following the dismal showing of oil prices, but that was offset by a strong performance by tech companies, with Alphabet (parent of Google) rallying following stronger-than-expected fourth quarter earnings, making the company the biggest in the United States, taking that title from struggling Apple.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average inched down 17 points, or 0.10% to 16,449, while tech-heavy NASDAQ Composite edged up six points, or 0.14% to 4,620. The S&P 500 index fell less than a point to 1,939.
Investors wait for a basket of data today, with Britain's construction PMI on the forefront, expected at an amazing-as-usual 57.6 in January, almost the same expansion as December's 57.8, which would buoy sterling.
From the Eurozone, the German Unemployment Change survey is forecast at -7K in December, continuing the recent trend of lower unemployment, while the whole zone's unemployment rate is expected at 10.5%, same as November's. A slide lower in unemployment results would cheer the euro.