European stocks slide after Easter break

European stocks slide after Easter break

European stock markets slid in early trade Tuesday, with banking shares among the biggest fallers as investors reacted to weak US jobs data following an extended break for Easter.

London’s benchmark FTSE 100 index retreated 1.15 percent to 5,657.63 points on the first trading day for Europe’s main market since last Thursday.

Frankfurt’s DAX 30 shed 1.34 percent to 6,684.22 points and in Paris the CAC 40 dropped 1.62 percent to 3,265.88.

Weak Chinese trade data and lingering eurozone debt worries added to the downside pressure, traders said.

Milan plunged 2.53 percent on a report in business daily Il Sole 24 Ore that the government was set to slash its 2012 growth forecast but leave its deficit estimate unaltered.

In foreign exchange trade, the euro dropped to $1.3087 from $1.3106 late in New York on Monday.

Among the banks, Barclays lost 2.14 percent to 214.55 pence in London. Elsewhere, BNP Paribas lost 2.31 percent to 32.13 euros and Santander gave up 2.07 percent to 5.29 euros.

The US Labor Department on Friday reported that the number of unemployed workers in the United States hovered close to 13 million as hiring slowed, highlighting the risks to economic recovery in the world’s biggest economy.

Economists had expected the US economy to power ahead in March and create upwards of 200,000 jobs to confirm that the recovery was finally becoming self-sustaining after a sluggish improvement from the worst recession in decades.

Instead, the US economy created only 120,000 jobs last month, although the unemployment rate did dip from 8.3 percent to 8.2 percent — a three-year low — but this was because of people dropping out of the labour market.

On Tuesday, Asian markets closed lower after soft Chinese trade data added to an already sombre mood after last week’s worse-than-forecast US jobs figures.

The Bank of Japan’s decision not to unveil any fresh stimulus measures also depressed sentiment and pushed the yen higher, as the optimistic outlook at the start of the year waned.

Tokyo closed down 0.09 percent, Seoul slipped 0.13 percent and Shanghai dropped 0.63 percent.

China posted a trade surplus in March, reversing a massive deficit in February, but the figures showed that exports were still weak owing to economic woes in its major overseas markets — principally, Europe.

The country recorded a trade surplus of $5.35 billion in March, as exports rose 8.9 percent. However, imports rose just 5.3 percent, raising concerns about the state of the domestic economy.