A selloff dubbed the 'Great Fall of China' reverberated around global markets on Monday, adding to fears of economic meltdown amid the chaos.
Losses across the board will add to the $5 trillion that has been erased from global equities since China unexpectedly devalued the yuan on August 11, worsening fears that the Chinese slowdown is more severe than anticipated.
On Monday, many expected the Chinese government to take measures such as cutting interest rates or injecting liquidity to stop further losses after Chinese markets fell nearly 12 per cent last week. When no such action was taken, the Shanghai Composite Index, China’s most important market index, tanked a further 9 per cent.
When European markets opened on Monday, they followed suit. By afternoon trading, the FTSE 100 had fallen 3.5 per cent and the German Dax had fallen 3.7 per cent, giving up its gains for the year. Monday’s losses marked the tenth straight day of decline on the FTSE 100, the worst record since 2003, and a total of £218 billion in value.
Some of the worst affect companies on the FTSE 100 were oil companies Glencore, Shell and Rio Tinto. Brent crude oil dropped to $43.7 a barrel, the first time it has dropped below the $45 a barrel mark since March 2009. Oil prices have suffered declines due to global oversupply, but a slump in the Chinese economy has prompted the price per barrel to fall even further.
The global selloff has hit the fortunes of some of the world’s richest. Warren Buffett, the world’s third wealthiest person, saw $3.6 billion get wiped off his fortune last week after shares in his company Berkshire Hathaway were hit.
Shares in Apple were down 6 per cent in Monday morning trading, dipping below the $100 a share mark that some investors see as significant. The wobble prompted Tim Cook, Apple ceo, to write: “I get updates on our performance in China every day, including this morning, and I can tell you that we have continued to experience strong growth for our business in China through July and August.”
“It is time for a reality check for all of us,” said David Buik, market commentator at Panmure Gordon “Maybe China has been economical with the truth about its growth and future prospects. Maybe oil and commodities have fallen out of bed! If the market puts in a day’s work next week, it is possible that equity markets will experience a ‘dead-cat-bounce’, but conditions will remain very volatile up until Christmas.”