Stocks end a tough quarter on economic fears

LONDON ― European markets advanced on Friday, getting some respite after a torrid week as the third quarter drew to a close.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 rose 1% in early trade, with oil and gas shares climbing 2.2% to lead gains as all sectors and major bourses moved into positive territory.

Global stocks struggled in recent sessions amid fears of slowing growth and aggressive monetary policy.

The widespread sell-off on Wall Street continued on Thursday, with all three major averages falling sharply as investors weighed the outlook for future rate hike decisions by the US Federal Reserve and their impact on markets. The S&P 500 hit a new low for the year. Stock futures were mixed in early premarket trading on Friday.

Asia-Pacific shares also retreated on Friday after plunging overnight, although new data showed Chinese factory activity unexpectedly rose in August.

Investor focus in Europe on Friday will shift to the first eurozone inflation figures for September, expected at 1[ads1]0 London time, with economists expecting annual consumer prices to have risen by a new record high of 9.7%.

Volatility continues in British markets after the Bank of England intervened in the bond market on Wednesday to strengthen the country’s financial stability, following a historic sell-off in long-dated gilts. Sterling also hit a record low on Monday after the new government’s widely condemned fiscal announcements, but has staged a significant rally in recent days.

Stateside, several Fed officials are due to speak on Friday afternoon, and markets will be watching closely for indications of the pace of future rate hikes by the central bank.

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