Stocks eye steepest slide since 2020 as central bankers roil market

World stocks headed for their worst week since markets' pandemic meltdown in March 2020 as leading central banks doubled down on tighter policy in an effort to tame inflation, setting investors on edge about future economic growth. 

The biggest U.S. rate rise since 1994, the first such Swiss move in 15 years, a fifth rise in British rates since December and a move by the European Central Bank to bolster the indebted south ahead of future rises all took turns in roiling markets. 

The Bank of Japan was the only outlier in a week where money prices rose around the world, sticking with its strategy of pinning 10-year yields near zero on Friday. 

After a week of punchy moves across asset classes, world stocks were flat on Friday to take weekly losses to 5.5% and leave the index on course for the steepest weekly percentage drop in more than two years. 

Overnight in Asia, the dollar climbed 1.9% against the yen to 134.70 in volatile trade, while MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell to a five-week low, dragged by selling in Australia. Japan's Nikkei (.N225) fell 1.8% and headed for a weekly drop of almost 7%.

S&P 500 futures were up 0.8% and Nasdaq 100 futures up 1.2%, although both remain well underwater on the week. 

“The more aggressive line by central banks adds to headwinds for both economic growth and equities," Mark Haefele, Chief Investment Officer at UBS Global Wealth Management, said. 

Data from analysts at Bank of America showed more than 88% of the stock indexes it tracks are trading below their 50-day and 200-day moving average, leading markets "painfully oversold". 

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