Stocks, copper fall on China, Europe growth concerns

Fri Jul 24, 2015 4:56pm EDT
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By Caroline Valetkevitch

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Global equity markets dropped on Friday and copper fell to a six-year low as weaker-than-expected data from China and the euro zone exacerbated concerns over global economic growth.

Brent and U.S. crude oil futures settled at their lowest since March and registered their fourth straight weekly decline.

Energy and materials shares weighed on U.S. stocks along with biotechs, which were dragged down by a disappointing forecast from Biogen (BIIB.O: Quote). The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq posted their biggest weekly declines since March.

"You got underwhelming revenue growth on balance and then you layer on top of that concern over a global economic slowdown, that becomes self-fulfilling," Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities in New York, said of the weak state of the stock market.

Copper slumped to its lowest in six years, with three-month copper on the LME CMCU3 hitting $5,191.50 a tonne, its cheapest since July 2009, before paring losses.

A survey showed Chinese manufacturing contracted by the most in 15 months in July as orders shrank. Worries over demand increased in the world's biggest metals consumer as stockpiles mounted.

The flash Caixin/Markit China Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) showed activity contracted for a fifth straight month, and faster than economists polled by Reuters had estimated. Euro zone business activity also started the second half of the year on less secure footing than expected, hit by Greece's near-bankruptcy. Markit's flash euro zone PMI fell.

MSCI's all-country equities world index .MIWD00000PUS was down 1 percent, while European shares .FTEU3 closed down 0.9 percent.   Continued...

Traders are pictured at their desks in front of the DAX board at the Frankfurt stock exchange July 22, 2015.   REUTERS/Remote/Staff