Traders are superstitious folk, and today – the first day of trading in the month of May – they headed for the hills as the FTSE 100 tumbled to a three-week low.
The bluechip index closed down 0.9 per cent on the day at 6,185 in a bad day all round for Europe. The German Dax sunk below 10,000 this morning and never looked up – it stood down 1.9 per cent at 9,925 in afternoon trading.
Miners suffered heavy blows on the back of poor manufacturing data from both China and closer to home as the UK's purchasing managers' index (PMI) fell below 50 – a score that indicates contraction – for the first time since 2013.
Anglo American was the biggest tumbler of the day – down a whopping 12.9 per cent to 665p. That fall eroded gains made last week, but still leaves it up from the depths of 240p a pop it was trading at at the start of the year.
Jasper Lawler of CMC Markets, said:
Woeful economic news and weak bank earnings put stock market bears in charge on Tuesday. Weak manufacturing data from China and the UK, downgraded forecasts for UK and Eurozone growth as well as the Reserve Bank of Australia cutting interest rates to ward off deflation all point to a weaker economic outlook.
Hot on Anglo's heels were the familiar faces: Glencore, off eight per cent; Antofagasta, down 7.7 per cent; Rio Tinto, 6.4 per cent weaker; and BHP Billiton, rounding out the plus-five losers with a drop of 5.8 per cent.
Insurers provided a few bright spots, with Aviva, Admiral and Direct Line all chalking up gains of more than 1.5 per cent – but today was all about the red.
Even the pound, which seemed unstoppable last week, shed some of its recent wins against the dollar. After an early morning rally, Wall Street turned its screen on and that was over before it barely begun – sending sterling down 0.8 per cent on the day to $1.4552.