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European stocks traded lower Thursday amid a volatile session following a global sell-off as bond markets stoked fears of an impending recession.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 finished the session provisionally down 0.33% in afternoon trade, autos leading losses with a 1.5% fall as the majority of sectors and major bourses dropped into the red. Utilities were the standout performers, gaining 0.7%.
Global markets were routed on Wednesday as the U.S. 2-year/10-year Treasury yield curve inverted for the first time since 2007, while the U.K. 2-year/10-year curve inverted for the first time in over a decade. Yield curve inversions are traditionally seen as indicators of an oncoming recession. German and French bond yields also hit record lows.
Weak economic data out of Germany and the euro zone compounded fears within Europe, with the German economy contracting in the second quarter.
Earlier, Asian stocks tumbled Thursday, led by the Japanese Nikkei 225, which fell 1.56%.
Stateside, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped over 800 points, posting its worst day of 2019 and falling to a two-month low. Shortly after the open Thursday, all three major indices were hovering unsteadily around the flat-line.
Investors around the world are closely watching geopolitical developments after U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday tied a potential U.S.-China trade deal to the humane resolution of protests disrupting Hong Kong.
Investors are monitoring mixed messages from China on Thursday regarding the trade war. After the Chinese State Council Tariff Committee said Beijing would have to take necessary counter-measures to President Trump's latest tariff threat, China's foreign ministry spokesperson struck a softer tone, saying in a statement that China hopes to "meet the U.S. halfway" on trade issues.
In terms of individual stocks, Swedish retailer Ica Gruppen saw its shares surge 10.9% in deals to top the Stoxx 600.
Danish beer maker Carlsberg was up 4.2% having earlier hit a fresh all-time high after it reported promising first-half earnings, raising revenue by 6.5% amid strong growth in Asia.
Shares of Dutch insurance group Aegon tumbled 7.7% two days after it announced the appointment of the head of NN Group, its biggest domestic rival, as its new chief executive.
Danish facility services company ISS fell 9.4% to the bottom of the European blue chip index, while United internet shares slid 6.2%, climbing off a six-year low earlier in the session after the German provider cut its full-year outlook.
Markets in Italy are closed for a public holiday.