Germany's unemployment change fell 20 thousand in December to a total of 2.73 million, cutting the rate to 6.3% from 6.4% the previous month, the lowest since the reunification between eastern and western Germany in the nineties. Other pleasant data from the Eurozone include a decrease in the unemployment rate for the whole region to 10.4% from 10.5 in November.
Euro traders cheered the data, but modestly however, as expectations remain strong of another bout of easing by the European Central Bank in March. The common currency rose for the second day against the dollar to 1.0936, up nearly 0.40% for the day, while climbing an impressive 0.65% versus sterling to 0.7594, but remained flat however against the yen at 131.63.
Britain's construction PMI slumped unexpectedly to 55.0 in January, far from expectations of 57.6, and much less than December's 57.8. Sterling took a hit from the bleak data, combined with uncertainties over Britain's future in the EU as a referendum is being hashed out currently to decide the kingdom's place in Europe. The royal currency slipped a third of a point against the dollar to 1.4403, while giving up a big 0.80% versus the yen to 173.38.
Oil prices plummeted more than five percent on worries over global growth and demand rates in China and the U.S., the world's leading energy consumers. Brent crude futures tanked $1.81, or 5.29% to $32.55 a barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediary (WTI) crude futures cratered $1.62, or 5.12% to $30.12 a barrel.
Europe bourses were floored by the global turmoil and the slide in commodity prices, with the pan-European index FTSEurofirst dropping two percent to 1,317. Britain was particularly affected due to its large energy portfolio, after oil giant BP reported its biggest loss ever, slumping eight percent, and dragging the FTSE 100 index down 2.70% to 5,876. Germany's DAX fared barely better, down by 1.89% at 9,570.