An employee passes share price information displayed on an electronic ticker board inside the London Stock Exchange Group’s offices in London, the UK. Picture: BLOOMBERG VIA GETTY IMAGES/LUKE MACGREGOR
An employee passes share price information displayed on an electronic ticker board inside the London Stock Exchange Group’s offices in London, the UK. Picture: BLOOMBERG VIA GETTY IMAGES/LUKE MACGREGOR

London — Shares fell and government bond yields rose across the world on Wednesday as oil prices hit their highest in seven years, fuelling deepening concerns about rising inflation.

The Euro Stoxx 600 index fell 1.9%, denting gains made in its best day in 11 weeks on Tuesday. Travel and leisure and tech stocks led the slide, with losses of 2.3% to 3.2%. German stocks shed 2.2%.

The mood was set to hit Wall Street, where US futures gauges pointed to losses of about 1.5%.

Weighing on equity markets were oil prices hitting their highest since November 2014, with investors anxious that spiralling energy costs could force central banks to raise rates more quickly to combat rising inflation.

US WTI crude climbed to $79.78 a barrel, while Brent rose above $83 — near a three-year high reached in the previous session — before the market turned negative during London trading hours.

Behind oil’s gains were concerns about energy supply and a decision on Monday by the world's main producers to stick to a planned output increase rather than raising it further.

The angst over inflation drove a sell-off in longer-dated US Treasuries and eurozone benchmark debt, and supported the dollar.

“Higher oil — and commodity prices in general in terms of gas and oil — are feeding through into higher bond yields, because it has an inflationary implication,” said Mike Bell, global market strategist at JPMorgan Asset Management.

“The market is looking at that and thinking, ‘is there a scenario in which inflation that everyone has said might be transitory being a little bit more persistent?’”

Benchmark 10-year yields rose 4.5 basis points to 1.573% during Asian trading hours,and have climbed nearly 11 bps in three days. They were last at 1.5397%.

Yields on 20-year and 30-year Treasuries also jumped to their highest since June.

Benchmark eurozone bond yields rose to new highs, with markets fearing inflation will be stickier than expected. Germany’s 10-year yield, the benchmark of the bloc, rose to its highest since late June.

The MSCI world equity index, which tracks shares in 50 countries, fell 0.5%. Its broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 0.1%.

“Growth started to peak 3-4 months ago, but between last November and April this year markets got used to every data point exceeding expectations,” said Grace Peters, EMEA head of investment strategy at JPMorgan Private Bank. “From April to the present day we are getting more data volatility and data that’s more open to interpretation. So the market is concerned about the glide path from here.”

Chinese markets remained closed for a public holiday, and shares of cash-strapped developer China Evergrande were suspended, having stopped trading on Monday pending an announcement of a significant transaction.

Dollar up, kiwi down

The dollar strengthened against a basket of major currencies, supported by rising bond yields, and was heading back towards a one-year high reached last month.

The dollar index rose 0.5% to 94.427, gaining momentum in morning trading.

Soaring energy prices and bond yields also hit the British pound. The rush for the safe-haven dollar pushed sterling down 0.5% to $1.355, with one-month implied volatility jumping to its highest level in seven months.

The New Zealand dollar extended losses as US yields rose, after barely budging on the Reserve Bank of New Zealand lifting its official cash rate for the first time in seven years. The kiwi was last down 1.1% at $0.6896.

The euro was pinned below $1.16 and was last down 0.6%, scarcely higher than the 14-month low it struck last week.

Reuters

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