Stock markets fall again, as UK house prices drop unexpectedly – business live

Newsflash: UK house prices fell in February, fuelling suspicions that the housing market is cooling fast.

The Nationwide Building Society has reported that prices fell by 0.3% last month, crushing expectations of a rise, following January’s 0.8% increase.

That drags the annual rate of house price growth down to 2.2%, from 3.2% a month ago.

Robert Gardner, Nationwide’s Chief Economist, blames falling consumer confidence and the squeeze on household budgets:

Gardner points out that mortgage approvals fell to their weakest level for three years in December – a sign that activity in the sector has fallen.

Nationwide expects house prices to only rise by 1% this year, due to ‘subdued economic activity’ and Britain’s exit from the European Union.

I’ll pull some reaction together now…

Good morning, and welcome to our rolling coverage of the world economy, the financial markets, the eurozone and business.

European stock markets are facing fresh losses today, after a late wobble on Wall Street sent the Dow Jones industrial average down almost 400 points, or 1.5%.

The selloff ended Wall Street’s run of 11 monthly gains, and was triggered by renewed jitters about the pace of US interest rate rises .

The big fear is that America’s central bank, the Fed, will hike interest rates four times in 2017.

This has sparked declines in Asia, where Japan’s Nikkei shed 1.5%.

As AFP put it:

European markets are set to follow, with the main indices being called down 0.5%.

(@IGSquawk)

The new chair of the Federal Reserve, Jerome Powell, worried investors on Tuesday by indicating that borrowing costs must rise to prevent the US economy overheating.

We’ll hear from Powell again today, when he testifies to the Senate banking committee. If he repeats his hawkish tone, then the markets could take fright.

Michael Hewson of CMC Markets says:

On the corporate side, advertising giant WPP and theme park operator Merlin are reporting results.

We also find out how the world’s manufacturing companies fared last month, as data firms Markit and ISM release their monthly healthchecks:

9am GMT: Eurozone manufacturing PMI report for February

9.30am GMT: UK manufacturing PMI report for February

10am GMT: Eurozone unemployment figures for January

1.30pm GMT: US personal income and spending figures

3pm GMT: US manufacturing PMI for February

3pm GMT: Fed chair Jerome Powell testifies to Congress (again)