Global stocks limp out of first quarter on Trump and tech fears

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China stocks post their worst quarterly fall in two years as the outcome of the threatened US trade war weighed on sentiment.

Asian market were the main focus of activity as Western markets were mostly shut or illiquid ahead of the long weekend.

On Thursday, ahead of the Easter break Europe's main STOXX 600 had also ended the quarter lower, down 4.7pc despite a global equities rally in January.

In China, the FTSE China A50 Index of China's biggest companies is down 4.2pc, its biggest retreat in two years, with insurers and drink makers leading losses.

The gauge had rallied 32pc last year.

China's markets have been turned upside down this year as the prevailing narrative shifted from deleveraging to trade wars, creating headaches for investors positioning ahead of MSCI inclusion in June.

In Dublin, the main Iseq index ended the first quarter of 2018 11pc below its 12-month high - which had been hit on January 21 when global markets were touching all-time highs. That early rally was led by the US in particular, where Donald Trump's tax reform package was seen as a boon to equities.

By the end of the quarter, Trump's ratcheting up of anti-trade rhetoric was a key factor undermining valuations and market confidence, along with a slide in technology shares on the back of privacy fears.

Shares ended Q1 lower despite a boom in mergers and acquisitions activity.

Nervous stock investors are now hoping an unusually strong US earnings season can restore some of the optimism that characterised equity markets last year.

Imploding technology stocks and fears of a trade war have pummeled the market in recent days. Given the surge in volatility this year, there is no guarantee that worst is over.