By Sam Forgione
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Stock markets worldwide tumbled on Friday, Brent crude oil prices fell to seven-year lows & China's yuan currency sank on risk aversion ahead of a widely anticipated U.S. interest rate increase next week & worries over economic growth.
The benchmark U.S. S&P 500 sank nearly 2 percent, while crude prices plunged further on a persistent global oversupply. The International Energy Agency said it sees the glut worsening in 2016 as demand slows & OPEC shows no signs of slowing production as it fights for market share.
Brent crude posted its biggest weekly percentage drop in over a year, while U.S. crude posted its biggest such decline in roughly a year.
"About 10 percent of the S&P 500 is energy & commodity related, & it is a barometer for the global economy. When you see such a plunge, it worries investors," said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities in New York.
China's yuan fell to its lowest in four & a half years on concerns over a slowdown of the world's second-biggest economy & expectations of a U.S. rate hike. Concerns grew that weakness in the yuan could weigh on the global economy.
In the spot market, the yuan hit 6.4564 against the U.S. dollar, its weakest since July 2011.
Brent crude settled down 4.53 percent at $37.93 a barrel after hitting $37.36, its lowest since December 2008. U.S. crude settled down 3.10 percent at $35.62 after hitting $35.32, its lowest since February 2009.
On Wall Street, the S&P 500 posted its biggest weekly percentage drop in over three & a half months, while the other two major U.S. indexes posted their biggest weekly declines in a month.
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> closed down 309.54 points, or 1.76 percent, at 17,265.21. The S&P 500 <.SPX> closed down 39.86 points, or 1.94 percent, at 2,012.37. The Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> closed down 111.71 points, or 2.21 percent, at 4,933.47.
BOND PRICES, GOLD GAIN
European shares slipped to their lowest in two months, with Europe's broad FTSEurofirst 300 index <.FTEU3> ending 2.14 percent lower at 1,397.49 & posting its biggest weekly drop in three & a half months.
MSCI's all-country world equity index <.MIWD00000PUS>, which tracks shares in 45 nations, was last down 1.6 percent, to 392.95.
The dollar fell against the euro as concerns over weak commodity prices & the yuan's slump were unsupportive of further monetary policy tightening by the Federal Reserve beyond December's heavily anticipated rate increase.
The dollar index <.DXY>, which tracks the greenback versus a basket of six currencies, was last down 0.39 percent, at 97.561.
U.S. Treasury debt prices surged on safe-haven demand after the drops in oil prices & equities.
"Most of this is driven by the sharp decline in oil prices given that there's no major alter in Fed expectations," said Cheng Chen, interest rates strategist at TD Securities in New York.
U.S. 10- & 30-year yields hit 2.120 percent & 2.866 percent, respectively, marking their lowest in over six weeks.
(Additional reporting by Dion Rabouin & Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss in New York & Clara Denina & Sudip Kar-Gupta in London; Editing by Bernadette Baum & James Dalgleish)