LONDON: European stock markets fell on Thursday (Jul 18) on concerns about an uncertain global economic outlook as disappointing company results added weight to lingering disquiet about the China-US trade war.
With an expected US Federal Reserve interest rate cut already priced in and few other catalysts to drive buying, analysts said investors were cashing out.
The dollar was weaker, while the pound recovered from lows struck this week despite forecasts of a UK recession in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
Britain would slide into a year-long recession should it leave the European Union without a deal on future economic relations with Brussels, the government's official forecaster said on Thursday.
Trading in New York left the Dow Jones Industrial Average down by 0.5 per cent in midday exchanges.
Market analyst Fawad Razaqzada remarked that concern about the global economy has been offset so far by central banks indicating they would trim interest rates, if they had not already done so.
"But unless growth starts to pick up, central banks' actions will only help to delay the inevitable: a sizeable correction," he predicted.
Shares in Netflix had plunged more than 11 per cent after its quarterly update, released after the market closed on Wednesday, showed weaker-than-expected subscriber growth for the streaming television sector leader.
The corporate earnings report season has produced "the tough start that many anticipated," said Craig Erlam, analyst at Oanda trading group.
"Netflix became the latest company... to face an investor backlash as subscribers rose at a slower rate than expected and significantly disappointed in its home market.
"While the company attributed this to price hikes, the increasing competition in the area is a major cause of concern for investors who have fled in numbers (at) the first excuse, it seems."
Tokyo led stock market losses on Thursday, sinking two per cent as it was hit by a stronger yen and data showing another drop in exports owing to falling demand and global trade uncertainty.
Energy firms tracked their US counterparts lower following another steep drop in oil prices on Wednesday that came after government data showing a pick-up in US gasoline inventories.
The figures represent the weakest demand in five years, analysts said.
"Gasoline consumption is painfully weak given US consumers are in peak driving season, which will be invariably seen as the Grim Reaper of sorts," said Stephen Innes at Vanguard Markets.
"If we put this data set in the context of slowing China second-quarter GDP, where consumption was the most significant drag, the numbers do suggest that the global economic slowdown is being echoed through weaker global demand data. Definitely a bearish signal for oil demand."
Oil prices were softer again on Thursday following a sharp sell-off on Wednesday.
Key figures around 1600 GMT:
London - FTSE 100: DOWN 0.6 per cent at 7,493.09 points (close)
Frankfurt - DAX 30: DOWN 0.9 per cent at 12,227.85 (close)
Paris - CAC 40: DOWN 0.4 per cent at 5,550.55 (close)
EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.5 per cent at 3,482.83
Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 2.0 per cent at 21,046.24 (close)
Hong Kong - Hang Seng: DOWN 0.5 per cent at 28,461.66 (close)
Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 1.0 per cent at 2,901.18 (close)
Pound/dollar: UP at US$1.2485 from US$1.2431 at 2050 GMT
Pound/euro: DOWN at 89.92 pence from 90.27 pence
Euro/dollar: UP at US$1.1228 from US$1.1222
Dollar/yen: DOWN at 107.74 yen from 108.11 yen
Brent North Sea crude: DOWN US$1.99 percent at US$61.67 per barrel
West Texas Intermediate: DOWN US$1.87 at US$54.91 per barrel