European stocks opened firmly lower Wednesday, following a weaker session in Asia, as markets continue to whipsaw in the wake of a major selloff in the tech sector that has triggered higher equity market volatility and a drive in global government bond markets.
The Stoxx 600 index, the region's broadest measure of share prices, slipped 1.24% to 363 points in the opening hours of trading, led by a 1.6% decline for Germany's DAX performance index. Britain's FTSE 100 opened 0.94% lower from last night's close at 6,930.5 points.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Technology index, the sector benchmark, was marked 2.79% lower at 423.11 points, taking the year-to-date decline to 3.6%, with Tesla Inc. (TSLA - Get Report) supplier Infineon AG (IFNNY) falling 4.36% to €21.48, chipmaker AMS AG (AMSSY) tumbling 8.67% to €102.40 and STMicroelectronics NV (STM - Get Report) declining 5% to €18.09.
Early indications from U.S. equity futures suggest markets will struggle to recover from yesterday's sell-off, with contracts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average marked 86 points to the downside after Tuesday's 345 point tumble and those linked to the broader S&P 500 holding 10 points lower. The market's key gauge of of near-term volatility, the CBOE's (VIX.X) index, ended the Tuesday session 7% higher at 22.50 points.
Tech stocks led yesterday's declines on Wall Street, led by a 12% plunge for Twitter Inc. (TWTR - Get Report) shares following a note from Citron Research that suggested the social media firm was one of the most susceptible to regulatory changes triggered by yet more headlines surrounding Facebook Inc.'s (FB - Get Report) multi-billion dollar data scandal.
The S&P 500 Information Technology index slumped 3.47% yesterday, wiping out all of its gains for the year, as investors worried about stricter government oversight on the sector and watched bellwether names such as Google parent Alphabet (GOOGL - Get Report) (-4.5%), Tesla (-8.22%) and Nvidia Corp. (NVDA - Get Report) (-7.76%), Netflix Inc. (NFLX - Get Report) (-6.14%) and Apple Inc. (AAPL - Get Report) (-2.56%) registered significant declines. The NYSE FANG+ index shed 5.63% to close at a six-week low of 2,441.5 points.
The slide sent investors running for cover in the bond markets, where benchmark U.S. 10-year Treasury yields fell 6 basis points to 2.775% before paring that move to around 2.79% in early European trading even as the market remained in the throes of $294 billion in new supply this week as the Treasury continues to fund the government's $1.5 trillion tax cut plan. European bonds were also better bid Wednesday, with 10-year German bund yields falling to a January low of 0.494%.
Overnight in Asia, tech stocks led benchmarks around the region to the downside, with the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index falling 1.32% into the close and the Shanghai Composite sliding 1.4% to finish the session at 3,122.22 points. Japan's Nikkei 225 shed 1.34% to close at 21,031.31 points.
Global oil markets were also softer, with prices falling sharply in overnight trade after the American Petroleum Institute published a surprise 5.3 million increase in domestic crude stocks late Tuesday, a figure that traders used to take profits for a market rally that had lifted prices around the world to multi-week highs.
Brent crude contracts for May delivery, the global benchmark, were seen 43 cents lower at $69.68 per barrel while WTI contracts for the same month were marked 55 cents lower at $64.70 per barrel.