Shares tumble worldwide on 'Super Thursday'

A global sell-off knocked world shares to a five-month low on Thursday as surging oil prices fanned concerns about inflation and slowing growth, just hours ahead of an expected eurozone interest-rate hike and a key United States jobs report.

The gloom was rampant everywhere, with Tokyo stocks setting their longest losing streak in more than half a century while the dollar hit a two-month low against the euro. Government bonds largely benefited from a global risk aversion.

The European Central Bank (ECB) is set to become the first G7 central bank to raise interest rates since the credit crisis erupted in August. The decision is due at 11.45am GMT.
At 12.30pm GMT, ECB president Jean-Claude Trichet gives a news conference and at the same time the US non-farm payrolls data is due.

Tightening comes as the global economy struggles with the chilling effects of an almost one-year-old financial turmoil.

“This has been a summer of thunderstorms that have been building up for some time,” said Justin Urquhart Stewart, investment director at Seven Investment Management.

“Only now are people beginning to realise quite how dark this particular storm is looking, but it’s been a long time coming.

The FTSEurofirst 300 index was down 1,5%, hitting a level not seen since July 2005. MSCI main world equity index fell 0,7% to its lowest since January 23, breaching the low set during the height of Bear Stearns crisis in March.

On Wall Street, the Dow sank into a bear market—a fall of 20% from peaks.

In the currency market, the euro benefited from the expected rate hike while the dollar fell as low as $1,5891 per euro.

“The risks for the dollar are to the downside, both in terms of how hawkish the ECB is going to sound—we don’t think they can afford to sound any less hawkish than they have been,” said Phyllis Papadavid, currency strategist at Société Générale, “and payrolls are not going to be the cause for any comfort either.”

A weaker dollar—which policymakers increasingly worry is inflationary—pushed crude oil to fresh record highs above $144 a barrel.

Emerging sovereign spreads widened 1 basis point while emerging stocks fell 1.4 percent.

The September Bund future rose 10 ticks.

Gold rose to $944.55 an ounce, its highest in almost 2-1/2 months.—Reuters

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