Stockmarkets around the world tumbled. Investors were spooked by a number of factors, including fears that trade tensions between America and China were starting to hurt profits, especially at technology companies. Apple’s share price dropped by 4.6% in one day. Asian markets fared particularly badly. The Shanghai Composite fell by 5.2% on a single day to near a four-year low. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng and Tokyo’s Topix index recorded similar plunges.
Concerns about rising interest rates in America also weighed on sentiment. Ten-year Treasury-bond yields rose to their highest point since 2011. In a report, the IMF warned that the divergence between advanced and emerging economies has grown over the past six months.
China’s central bank pumped 750bn yuan ($108bn) into the economy by reducing the amount of cash that banks have to hold as reserves, after figures showed that investment and exports have weakened. The trade war with America, which has raised tariffs on Chinese imports, and a strong dollar have increased the pressure on policymakers to bolster growth.
Facing a shareholders’ revolt, Unilever ditched its proposal to shed its London headquarters and retain Rotterdam as its sole base. The Anglo-Dutch consumer-goods group wants to simplify its corporate structure but came under pressure from British fund managers fearful that the move would have made Unilever ineligible for inclusion in the FTSE 100 index.
The competition authority in Britain launched an investigation into whether the dominance of the Big Four accountancy firms is driving down auditing standards. A number of spectacular business failures, such as the collapse of Carillion, a global construction company, has increased the scrutiny of auditors’ practices.
Google faced more pressure following the news that it had failed to disclose a bug in its Google+ social network. The company discovered in March that the personal details of up to 500,000 users may have been exposed to developers of third-party apps. It will shut down Google+, though that did little to stop observers comparing the transgression to Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal.