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LONDON: World stock markets mostly sank Monday on stubborn fears over the impact of rising US interest rates, surging inflation and China’s Covid lockdowns.

Frankfurt, London and Paris each shed more than one percent nearing the half-way stage after Tokyo closed down 2.5 percent.

On Wall Street, all three major indices fell by more than one percent at the start of trading.

Shanghai edged higher and Hong Kong was shut for a holiday.

Oil prices lost two percent on demand worries and the haven dollar rose, while bitcoin plunged to a 2022 low below $33,000 as investors shunned the volatile cryptocurrency.

Stock markets had dived last week after the Federal Reserve ramped up interest rates by a half-percentage point and flagged more hikes to tackle decades-high inflation.

“Elevated inflation pressures continue to cloud conviction, with the Fed and other central banks beginning to tighten monetary policy,” said analysts at Charles Schwab brokerage.

“Meanwhile, inflation concerns continue to be exacerbated by the war in Ukraine and ongoing supply chain challenges,” they added.

Anxiety spreads

“Anxiety is stemming from the Fed’s next moves, with uncertainty creeping in about the scale and speed of interest rate hikes,” said Hargreaves Lansdown analyst Sophie Lund-Yates.

“All this comes at the same time as China grapples with ongoing lockdowns and the prevailing economic storm these entail.”

Millions of people in Beijing stayed home on Monday as China’s capital tries to fend off a Covid-19 outbreak with creeping restrictions on movement.

Beijing residents fear they may soon find themselves in the grip of the same draconian measures that have trapped most of Shanghai’s 25 million people at home for weeks.

Lockdowns across dozens of Chinese cities – from the manufacturing hubs of Shenzhen and Shanghai to the breadbasket of Jilin – have wreaked havoc on supply chains over recent months and further stoked global inflationary pressures.

Investors were given more bad news on Monday as China’s April exports slumped to their lowest level in almost two years, due to the nation’s strict zero-Covid policy.

Exports plunged to 3.9 percent on-year, while imports were stagnant for April.

Global markets have also taken a beating this year from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

President Vladimir Putin on Monday defended Russia’s offensive in Ukraine and blamed Kyiv and the West, as he looked to use grand Victory Day celebrations to mobilise patriotic support for the campaign.

However, investors were relieved that Putin made no major announcements, despite reports he could use the anniversary to announce an escalation of the conflict or a general mobilisation.

“Putin has not declared a war on Ukraine to enable full mobilisation which is obviously a relief,” noted Markets.com analyst Neil Wilson.

Key figures at around 1330 GMT

London - FTSE 100: DOWN 1.5 percent at 7,272.51 points

Frankfurt - DAX: DOWN 1.3 percent at 13,499.06

Paris - CAC 40: DOWN 1.7 percent at 6,151.30

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 1.5 percent at 3,520.86

New York - Dow: DOWN 1.3 percent at 32,460.23

Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.09 percent at 3,004.14 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 2.5 percent at 26,319.34 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: Closed for a holiday

Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 2.2 percent at $110.18 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 2.4 percent at $107.42 per barrel

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.0543 from $1.0551 on Friday

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2350 from $1.2348

Euro/pound: DOWN at 85.38 pence from 85.45 pence

Dollar/yen: UP at 130.73 yen from 130.56 yen

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