- Global shares fell Friday as investor concern intensified about Delta variant cases and their impact on recovery.
- A new Chinese data-protection law underscored worries about a tech crackdown, weighing on stocks.
- Oil prices extended their slide to a seventh day as COVID-19's spread fueled worries about demand.
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Global stocks fell Friday as concerns intensified about the rise in Delta coronavirus variant cases and an associated slowdown in economic recovery.
US stock futures linked to the S&P 500 were down 0.45%, Dow Jones futures dropped 0.45%, and Nasdaq futures fell 0.27%, at last check 6:23 am E.T. The declines came after a choppy regular session for the major US benchmarks, which closed mixed Thursday.
Further regulatory pressure was weighing on China's tech stocks, after lawmakers approved strict data-protection measures that will increase the compliance burden on internet companies. Alibaba Group shares fell almost 2.6% in Hong Kong.
But the spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19 was front of mind, and what that could mean for economic recovery in the US as well as Asia and elsewhere. Hospitalizations and deaths are on the rise in the US, where average daily cases on Thursday topped 130,000 for the first time since February, official data showed.
Investors concerned about economic growth are looking ahead to the Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell's comments at the Jackson Hole symposium next week. They are bracing to hear more about its timeline for tapering and easing of economy-stimulating policies.
"Regardless of Fed tapering timing, growth is only getting pushed further out, but given the excessive froth in the market a pullback seems warranted," Edward Moya, senior market analyst at Oanda, said in a note.
He added that the Fed's stimulus measures would not disappear overnight and markets would therefore continue to be supported in the coming months.
"Investors should not expect a similar 2013 taper tantrum, but a modest stock market pullback that will likely be bought into," he said.
The yield on the US 10-year Treasury note stood at 1.24, down less than a basis point.
European stock markets opened lower Friday. Frankfurt's DAX was down 0.5%, while the Euro Stoxx 50 dropped 0.17%, and London's FTSE 100 dipped 0.17%. UK retail sales data showed an unexpected 2.5% decline in July.
Gold inched higher and was last up 0.17%, trading at $1,782.49 per ounce.