Global stocks ease after Chinese data paints a mixed picture of recovery and inflation concerns weigh heavily


  • US futures and European stocks edged lower on Monday after overnight data out of China.
  • China's April retail sales of 17.7% missed forecasts of a 24.9% growth, suggesting slowing recovery.
  • Asian stocks struggled under the strain of a renewed COVID-19 viral load.
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Global stocks traded mixed on Monday after China reported consumer spending grew more slowly than expected in April.

Chinese retail sales rose 17.7% last month compared to a year ago, the country's National Bureau of Statistics said. The reading missed expectations for an increase of 24.9%.

Investors are expected to focus on Federal Reserve speakers in the coming week as they react to US consumer prices climbing 4.2% year-over-year in April, marking the strongest inflation since September 2008.

Futures on the Dow Jones, S&P 500, and Nasdaq fell 0.2%, suggesting a lower start to trading later in the day.

Elsewhere in Europe, lockdowns are easing in England as the ban on foreign travel has now been lifted. But stocks mostly traded lower on fears of high US inflation.

"The rollercoaster drama of last week gave way to a fairly benign start to trading this Monday morning," said Connor Campbell, a financial analyst at SpreadEx. "Contributing to the quiet open was the overnight figures out of China, numbers that are indicative of a slowing recovery in the country."

Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto/Getty

Ryanair, one of Europe's most popular airlines, reported its biggest ever annual loss of $988 million after a year ruined by the pandemic. The problem for Ryanair – and indeed all carriers – is that they need to drastically increase passenger numbers in order to pay back debts accumulated over the past 14 months, according to Adam Vettese, analyst at online broker eToro.

London's FTSE 100 fell 0.3%, the Euro Stoxx 50 fell 0.2%, and Germany's DAX was about flat.

The seven-day global average growth in new COVID-19 cases has continued to decline and is currently at its lowest level since March this year. But some countries in Asia are moving ahead with fresh restrictions.

Taiwan's government is shutting down schools, cinemas, and entertainment venues for two weeks until May 28. Singapore will close public schools after 38 new cases were confirmed, of which seven are found to be linked to the variant first detected in India. Malaysia and Thailand are also facing spiraling cases, while Japan widened its state of emergency to three more prefectures.

"Mainland China and Indonesia seem to be the last men standing on the virus front," Jeffrey Halley, a senior market analyst at OANDA, said.

China's Shanghai Composite rose 0.7%, Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.4%, and Japan's Nikkei fell 0.9%.

Bitcoin tumbled by as much as 11% to around $43,500 on Sunday after Elon Musk hinted that Tesla may sell or could have already sold its holdings of the cryptocurrency. But the digital asset regained some of those losses after Musk clarified hours later that "Tesla has not sold any bitcoin."

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