European stock markets fall at open


London, Feb 17 (AFP/APP): European stock markets fell at the start of trading on Wednesday following losses across much of Asia.

London’s benchmark FTSE 100 index slid 0.4 percent to 6,723.82 points, with traders looking past official data showing UK inflation edged up in January. In the eurozone, Frankfurt’s DAX 30 index dropped 0.7 percent to 13,968.31 points and the Paris CAC 40 shed 0.5 percent to 5,756.40.

British inflation meanwhile climbed to 0.7 percent last month from 0.6 percent in December on higher food prices, the Office for National Statistics said. Analysts expect inflation to rise strongly in the coming months with the UK economy tipped to emerge from its latest coronavirus lockdown.

A huge fresh stimulus package due in the US has also fired inflation expectations in the world’s top economy, sending US Treasury yields close to one-year highs. That has triggered concerns about rising borrowing costs, which market-watchers fear could dent the economic recovery and hit consumer spending. “The 10-year (yield) is now at its highest level in almost 12 months and the speed at which it’s climbed in recent days may be causing a little alarm,” noted Craig Erlam, analyst at Oanda trading group.

“UK inflation is no cause for concern, despite it printing slightly higher than expected.” Separate data on Wednesday showed new car sales in Europe plunged 24 percent to a record low in January from one year earlier. The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association said that in 2020, marked by strict lockdowns and economic upheaval, car sales in the 27-member European Union slumped by some 3.0 million to under 10 million.

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