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Stocks on longest slide since November as Fed caution hits

Share markets were stuck on their worst run since November yesterday, as caution gripped traders in a week in which the Federal Reserve is likely to raise US interest rates and perhaps signal as many as three more lie in store this year.

A 0.6-1.3 per cent drop for Europe’s main bourses amid a flurry of gloomy company news and weaker Wall Street futures meant MSCI’s main 47-country world stocks index was down for a fifth day.

The caution also came against the backdrop of global trade war worries which are set to dominate a two-day G20 meeting starting later in Argentina as well as plenty of idiosyncratic factors.

Facebook shares slumped 3.7 per cent in premarket trading after reports that 50 million of its users’ data had been misused by a political consultancy firm ahead of the 2016 US election and Brexit vote.

London’s FTSE was down double the rest of Europe as a savage profit warning wiped more than half the value off one of its big tech firms, even as a two-year Brexit transition deal gave the pound its best day in almost two months against the euro.

A Reuters report that the ECB is starting to think a bit more about the future pace of euro zone interest rate rises helped the euro recover from a difficult morning against the dollar.

It had struggled as the gap between 10-year German and US government yields ratcheted out to its widest since December 2016.

Oil prices eased after ending last week with a solid bounce. Brent futures dropped as much as 40 cents to $65.81 a barrel, while US crude futures for April, which expire today, dipped as far as 36 cents to $61.98 a barrel.

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