The emissions scandal is taking its toll on VW sales.
Photograph by David Gannon — AFP/Getty Images
By Geoffrey Smith
October 6, 2014

Global stock markets rebounded Monday, taking heart from the strength of the latest U.S. employment report and following Wall Street higher after an ugly start to the fourth quarter.

Stock markets have had a rough ride in recent weeks due to fears that the U.S. could soon begin to raise interest rates, even while big swathes of the world economy from the Eurozone to Brazil and even China are all battling slowdowns in their economies.

But Japan’s benchmark Nikkei index surged 1.2% Monday in reaction to the news that the U.S.’s economic momentum looks unbroken heading into the winter, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index recovered 1.1% on signs that the pro-democracy protests which grabbed headlines last week are losing momentum. That suggests the storm may die down of its own accord and reduces the risk of a violent confrontation, analysts say.

The positive momentum carried over to Europe, which continues to be plagued with concerns about economic stagnation. The German DAX index rose 0.9% by lunchtime in Europe despite figures showing the sharpest monthly drop in new orders to manufacturing since the 2009 recession. France’s CAC 40 and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 were also clearly higher, despite the absence of major domestic news.

The figures, which showed German orders falling 5.7% from July, are normally a reliable indicator of how Europe’s largest economy is going, but in this case, analysts pointed out that they likely overstated things due to a quirk in vacation schedules at some of Germany’s biggest employers.

Holger Schmieding, chief economist at Berenberg Bank in London, pointed out that this year, the bulk of factory holidays fell in August, rather than July, rather than being distributed more evenly. As a result, there was a big blip upwards in the July figures, which was reversed in August.

“The underlying trend is one of modest weakness,” Schmieding said, pointing to the fact that the combined July-August figures were down around 0.3% from the second quarter, which themselves were down 0.3% from the previous three months.

Germany’s economy had been growing at a rate of some 2% before the eruption of the Ukraine crisis. Schmieding argued that although the impact on German exports to Russia has been real, it’s the damage to sentiment that has been more responsible for the economy effectively stalling during the summer.

“Forget the short-term volatility: the real story is that the German economy has been weakened by the shock delivered by (Russian President Vladimir) Putin,” he said.


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