Renewed volatility as markets kick off 2019

(c) Sky News 2019: <a href="">Renewed volatility as markets kick off 2019</a>

Global markets have endured a rollercoaster ride in the first session of 2019 with more wild swings as trading opened for January.

London's FTSE 100 opened more than 100 points, or 1.6%, lower on Wednesday, before recovering all of the losses to end the session six points, or 0.1%, ahead.

It was a similar story in New York, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average down by more than 300 points in early trading before fighting back later and closing marginally higher.

Meanwhile, the Brexit-battered pound suffered another bleak day as it fell by nearly two cents to less than $1.26.

Traders were returning to their desks for the New Year after a dismal performance in 2018 - with global stock markets experiencing their worst year in a decade.

The FTSE 100 fell by 12.5% over the course of the year, wiping more than £240bn off the value of its constituent companies, in the biggest annual decline since the since the financial crisis in 2008.

On Wednesday, weaker than expected manufacturing data from China saw the glum mood extend into the New Year early in the session.

The figures added to a cocktail of worries over the global economy that have increasingly troubled investors in recent weeks - and have prompted several sessions of wild volatility on stock markets.

Asian indices turned lower overnight and European markets followed later with sharp falls when they opened, before mainly fighting back later.

Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst at Think Markets, said: "Global stock markets seem shaky on the first trading day of the year and still under the influence of the sell-off which we experienced in 2018.

"Investors are clearly concerned about growth in 2019 and the lack of confidence is keeping them on the sidelines or they are feeling safer by parking their capital in risk-off assets."

While Brexit has been a concern for the UK, global markets have been rattled by US President Donald Trump's trade war with China and a government shutdown over the funding of a border wall with Mexico.

Mr Trump has also railed against the US Federal Reserve over interest rates.

The latest volatility for global markets was triggered by weaker-than-expected Chinese manufacturing data, which contracted for the first time in 19 months.

The Caixin/Markit Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) for December fell to 49.7, from 50.2 in November.

The Shanghai blue-chip index fell 1.2% and South Korea dipped 1.5%. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong slumped 2.7% and Sydney's S&P/ASX 200 dropped 1.6%.

In Europe, Germany's Dax ended Wednesday 0.2% higher and Italy's MIB was flat while France's Cac 40 fell 0.9%.