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Asian, European Stocks Mixed After Recession Jitters Spark Sell-Off On Wall Street

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A man looks at an electronic stock board showing Japan's Nikkei 225 index at a securities firm in Tokyo on Thursday.
Eugene Hoshiko, AP

A man looks at an electronic stock board showing Japan's Nikkei 225 index at a securities firm in Tokyo on Thursday.

Asian and European markets put in a mixed performance a day after fears of a looming global recession triggered an 800-point drop in the Dow — one of the biggest one-day sell-offs on Wall Street ever.

In Asia, indexes in China and Hong Kong were mostly in positive territory, with the benchmark Shanghai Composite and Hang Seng both posting modest gains. South Korea and India were also up.

However, Japan's Nikkei was down a little over 1%. Shares were also in the red in Taiwan, New Zealand and Australia.

In Europe, stocks across the board were trending lower in early trading, with some indexes in Denmark and Russia narrowly bucking the trend.

The S&P Europe 350 Index was down more than 1.5%, while London's FTSE 100 was also trending down, as was France's CAC and Germany's DAX.

A raft of troubling economic data out Wednesday sent jitters through U.S. markets. Germany, the European Union's economic powerhouse, saw negative growth in the latest quarter in what could be the first sign of a full-fledged recession. Halfway around the world, in China, the growth in industrial output fell to a 17-year low.

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Most concerning for U.S. investors was that the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note fell below that for 2-year Treasurys, meaning investors are piling into longer-term investments as a haven against short-term risk.

The "yield-curve inversion" has reliably preceded all of the past seven recessions going back to 1969.

It was a lot for investors to digest and they reacted mostly by issuing sell orders, sending the Dow Jones Industrial Average down by just over 800 points, a more than 3% drop.

Earlier this month, Morgan Stanley cautioned that the protracted U.S.-China trade war was having a deleterious effect on the global economy, threatening to spark a recession.

"As we view the risk of further escalation as high, the risks to the global outlook are decidedly skewed to the downside," the investment bank's chief economist Chetan Ahya wrote.

President Trump on Tuesday backed off a Sept. 1 deadline that would have added a new 10% tariff on all remaining Chinese imports, including many consumer products. That decision led to a bump in the Dow, which was soundly reversed Wednesday.

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