Caution abounds to end the year

LONDON — European markets fluctuated on Thursday as caution returned to global stocks, with investors assessing a number of likely headwinds in 2023.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 index was fractionally above the flatline by late morning, having clawed back opening losses of around 0.5%. Tech stocks added 0.6% while travel and leisure stocks dropped 0.5%.

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The European blue chip index began Thursday’s session down more than 12% for the year and is on course for its worst year since 2018.

European markets look set to continue the weak sentiment in Asia-Pacific overnight, where markets followed Wall Street’s losses as investors looked with trepidation to the year ahead. U.S. stock futures ticked slightly higher in early premarket trade on Thursday.

Global stock markets are rounding off a tumultuous and difficult year, as governments and central banks grappled with sky-high inflation arising from the fallout from Russia’s war in Ukraine, and persistent Covid-19 restrictions in China.

The boost offered on Tuesday by China’s relaxation of the last of the zero-Covid measures, which it has held in place for almost three years, proved fleeting as caution returned throughout the week.

Investors remain wary of the prospect of persistently high inflation, monetary policy tightening from central banks and a potentially prolonged period of sluggish economic growth.

One economist told CNBC on Tuesday that most major economies would be “lucky” to achieve 1% GDP growth per annum for much of the next decade.

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