Stocks end tough quarter amid economic fears

LONDON — European markets rose on Friday, gaining some breathing room after a torrid week as the third quarter drew to a close.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 was up 0.6% in the early afternoon, after halving its early gains. Media stocks gained 1.5% while autos fell 0.9%.

Global equities have struggled in recent sessions on fears of slowing growth and aggressive monetary policy tightening.

The widespread selling on Wall Street continued on Thursday, with all three major averages falling sharply as investors weighed the prospects for future U.S. Federal Reserve rate hike decisions and their impact on markets. The S&P 500 hit a new low for the year. Equity futures were mixed in early trade ahead of Friday’s trade.

Shares in Asia-Pacific also fell on Friday after the overnight plunge in the United States, although new data showed Chinese factory activity unexpectedly increased in August.

Volatility persists in UK markets after the Bank of England intervened in the bond market on Wednesday to shore up the country’s financial stability, following a historic long-term gilt selloff.

The pound also hit an all-time low on Monday following widely condemned fiscal policy announcements by the new government, but staged a significant rally in recent days and hit a weekly high on Friday.

In the US, several Fed officials are scheduled to speak on Friday afternoon, and markets will be watching closely for indications as to the pace of future central bank rate hikes.

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