European stocks fell sharply on Wednesday, tracking weak Asian markets as disappointing manufacturing data from China added to investor concerns over slowing global growth.
U.S. stock-index futures also extended declines on the first trading day of the year as the government shutdown entered its 12th day with no signs of a workable plan.
A private survey showed that China’s manufacturing sector contracted for the first time in 19 months in December, due to ongoing trade frictions between the world’s two largest economies. The Caixin/Markit manufacturing PMI dropped to 49.7 from 50.2 in November.
Closer home, Eurozone manufacturing PMI stood at 51.4 in December, down from November’s 51.8 and the lowest since February 2016 while the U.K. PMI extended its upbeat momentum in the month to hit a six-month high at 54.2.
German employment grew to a record high in 2018 despite a slowdown in the economy, preliminary figures from the Federal Statistical Office showed.
The number of employed grew by 562,000 persons or 1.3 percent to an annual average 44.8 million.
The pan-European Stoxx Europe 600 index was down 1.1 percent at 334.03 in opening deals after rising 0.4 percent on Monday.
The German DAX, France’s CAC 40 index and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 were down 0.8 percent, 1.9 percent and 1.3 percent, respectively.
Automakers paced the declines, with Daimler, Volkswagen, Renault and Peugeot losing 2-3 percent.
Banks also fell broadly, with Commerzbank, Deutsche Bank and BNP Paribas declining 1-3 percent.
Miners Anglo American, Antofagasta and Glencore tumbled 4-5 percent on concerns over growth in top metals consumer China.
Oil giant BP Plc fell over 1 percent and Tullow Oil lost 3.4 percent as oil prices dropped more than 1 percent on growth worries and concerns over surging output in the U.S. and Russia.
Hammerson gave up 2.9 percent. The real estate firm said that its financial performance for the year ended December 31, 2018 is anticipated to be in line with market expectations.
Upstream oil and gas exploration and production company Ophir Energy jumped more than 33 percent after confirming talks with a potential new owner.
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