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Global stocks plunge on growth worries

written by Bella Palmer
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The mood was underscored by a 9% surge in British consumer prices and a faster-than-expected acceleration in inflation in Canada

Global stocks plunged and the dollar strengthened for the first time in four sessions on Wednesday as concerns about rising inflation on economic growth soured sentiment.

The mood was underscored by a 9% surge in British consumer prices and a faster-than-expected acceleration in inflation in Canada.

British inflation surged to its highest annual rate since 1982 as energy bills soared, while Canadian inflation rose to 6.8% last month, largely driven by rising food and shelter prices, Statistics Canada data showed.

British inflation is now the highest among major economies in Europe, but prices are rapidly rising worldwide, forcing central banks around the globe to hike interest rates and tamp down growth as suggested by a modest decline in U.S. homebuilding in April.

Soaring prices and material shortages have already hit homebuilding, the sector of the economy most sensitive to rates. But the U.S. Commerce Department report also showed a record backlog of houses to be built, indicating a decline in homebuilding potentially might be marginal.

Adding to the gloom caused by inflation were earnings results from Target Corp, whose quarterly profit halved as it warned of a bigger margin hit this year due to rising fuel and freight costs.

Target shares plummeted 24.88%, its biggest one-day percentage drop since the "Black Monday" stock market crash on Oct. 19, 1987, a day after Walmart Inc warned of similar margin squeezes and saw its stock drop 11.4% for its biggest one-day percentage fall since Oct. 16, 1987.

It was Walmart yesterday and everybody thought it was a one-off, said Dennis Dick, head of markets structure and a proprietary trader at Bright Trading LLC in Las Vegas. Now that Target misses earning a lot more than Walmart even did, they're scared that consumer is not as strong as everybody think it is.

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