Jan 30 - Global equities hit 3-1/2 month lows after the U.S. Federal Reserve pushed ahead with reducing stimulus, raising concern about more emerging markets weakness and pushing investors towards safe-haven bonds. Joel Flynn reports
Part of a global economic recovery or the next stage in the financial crisis? That's the questions at the backs of many minds as the emerging market sell off continued apace. The U.S. Federal Reserve's decision to withdraw more of its monetary stimulus didn't help. European stocks followed Asian shares downward on Thursday. Baader Bank's Robert Halver believes there could be worse to come. SOUNDBITE: Baader Bank Analyst, Robert Halver, saying (German): "We have had so much liquidity in the financial markets we could flood the whole world with it. The decisive factor is U.S. interest rates. A hike would not be good for emerging markets." The index of top European shares lost nearly 5 percent in just over a week. But FxPro's Simon Smith says the Fed's move was a necessary evil. SOUNDBITE: FxPro Head of Research, Simon Smith, saying (English): "I think it would be more dangerous actually to hold back, pander to what's been going on in emerging markets which you can argue the degree to which that's been fuelled by the Fed or is actually down to more local factors. So I think they did the right thing in continuing along that path." Central banks raised interest rates to try and shore up battered emerging markets. But investors were still selling stocks and bonds and currencies were still weakening. The Russian rouble hit record lows against the euro and currencies in South Africa and Hungary tumbled. Edward Hadas is from Reuters Breakingviews. SOUNDBITE: Reuters Breakingviews Economics Editor, Edward Hadas, saying (English): "What we seem to have is tools that are inadequate to the kind of forces of the financial markets and to indeed, it's not quite clear whether the tools did a whole lot for the general economy either, the quantitative easing." To make matters worse Chinese manufacturing slipped to a six month low. It's still growing at around 7%, but not as fast as it was.