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James Hyerczyk

Global equity markets are trading lower on Friday on grim U.S. economic data, mixed company results and President Donald Trump’s threat to impose new tariffs on China over the coronavirus crisis.

MSCI’s index of global stocks fell 0.5% after a tumble late Thursday broke a six-day winning streak for the index, according to Reuters.

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Trading volumes were thin with many European markets closed for a May 1 public holiday. Markets in Germany, France, Italy and other major European economies are closed for Labor Day after European stocks finished out their strongest month since October 2015 on Thursday.

UK’s FTSE 100 Down at Mid-Morning

London-listed stocks fell as data showed the UK housing market was grinding to a halt, with the FTSE 100 down 2.2%, wiping out much of the strong gains from earlier in the week.

British Airways (BA) operator IAG shed another 2.6% as details of its plans to cut staffing, including a quarter of its pilots, to weather the collapse in air travel caused by the coronavirus. BA reportedly intends to cut 1,130 of its 4,346 flight captain and co-pilot jobs.

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U.K. Manufacturing Outlook is Bleak

On the data front, the final U.K. Markit manufacturing PMI reading on Friday showed British manufacturers suffered their worst decline in output for three decades in April. The headline activity index slumped to 32.6 from 47.0 in March.

A survey by trade body Make U.K. published late on Thursday suggested that British manufacturing activity could more than halve in the second quarter as the coronavirus pandemic has caused a collapse in demand for 80% of manufacturers.

Investors Shrug-Off UK PM Boris Johnson’s Pledge to End Lockdowns

The FTSE 100 was under pressure on Friday despite U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s pledge to lay out a plan to exit nationwide lockdowns.

In his first news conference since recovering from the coronavirus, Johnson said the U.K. was past the peak of its outbreak, and vowed to set forth a plan next week on how the country might gradually return to normality.

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