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European Stocks Close Sharply Lower as Inflation Fears Roil Global Markets

Source: NYSE
  • U.K. inflation more than doubled in April, the Office for National Statistics said Wednesday, with consumer prices rising by 1.5% after a 0.7% climb in March.
  • On Wall Street, U.S. stocks were deep in the red Wednesday as a plunge in cryptocurrencies led to massive selling in speculative pockets of the market.
  • Shares of British infrastructure investment group John Laing soared on Wednesday after private equity firm KKR agreed to a $2.8 billion takeover of the firm.

LONDON — European stocks closed lower on Wednesday, following a global dip in markets as fears about rising inflation continue to weigh on sentiment.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 ended the session down by 1.5%, with basic resources dropping 4.1% to lead losses as all sectors and major bourses traded firmly in negative territory.

U.K. inflation more than doubled in April, the Office for National Statistics said Wednesday. Consumer prices rose by 1.5% after a 0.7% climb in March.

"CPI inflation has finally broken out of the 0.2% to 1.0% year-on-year range that it has been in since the pandemic took hold. However, even with core CPI higher, this doesn't yet reflect rising underlying domestic inflationary pressure," said Melanie Baker, senior economist at Royal London Asset Management.

"The U.K. economy is still operating below pre-crisis levels and inflation expectations look reasonably well anchored. However, as the economy reopens, it seems likely that we will see some further price increases and inflation is likely to end the year higher."

European markets are following dour sentiment elsewhere; on Wall Street, U.S. stocks were deep in the red Wednesday as a plunge in cryptocurrencies led to massive selling in speculative pockets of the market. Stocks in Asia-Pacific closed lower.

Investors concerned about rising inflation will be keeping a close eye on the Federal Open Market Committee as it publishes the minutes from its April meeting on Wednesday.

Minutes of the meeting could provide more clues on when the central bank could consider tapering bond purchases, a move that is expected to come before it increases interest rates.

European earnings came from E.On, which also holds an annual general meeting. Deutsche Boerse, Uniper, Experian and Premier Foods will also publish their latest results.

Shares of British infrastructure investment group John Laing jumped more than 11% to a 52-week high after private equity firm KKR announced that it had agreed to buy the company for £2 billion ($2.84 billion).

On the Stoxx 600, Swedish engineering company Sandvik fell 5.9%, while Swiss hearing aid manufacturer Sonova gained 1.8% after JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs upgraded the stock.

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