LONDON World stocks inched up from 2-1/2-month lows on Tuesday as China pumped in an estimated $20 billion to stabilise its equity and currency markets, which recorded the worst opening day's trade in years in the previous session.
Despite the huge cash injections, Chinese shares listed in Shanghai and Shenzen .SSEC .CSIO300 ended no better than little changed and the yuan fell to a new 4-1/2-year low in offshore trade.
"China's actions are certainly positive at the margin ... but overall the risk is that it is interpreted as a signal of weakness that these ongoing struggles to stabilise the market by the authorities aren't really bearing fruit," Commerzbank strategist, Michael Leister, said.
Panic selling on Monday, mostly by China's army of small retail investors, sent shares diving 7 percent, setting off a worldwide reaction and pushing MSCI's global index 2 percent lower .MIED00000PUS.
European shares opened higher, but these gains quickly evaporated. At 0915 GMT the FTSE pan-European index was flat at 1,401 points after Monday's 2.5 percent fall.
Stock futures pointed to a firmer opening for Wall Street, with S&P e-mini futures up 0.25 percent ESc1.
Emerging equities, having posted their biggest one-day fall since August, stayed close to those lows .MSCIEF.
CHANCE TO SELL
Many analysts predicted that investors would view any bounce as a chance to sell, given the economic gloom across much of the world, weak commodity prices and the escalation of political risk in the Middle East, where Iran and Saudi Arabia are facing off over Riyadh's execution of a Shi'ite cleric.
"The price action reminds investors that the world is more connected than ever; volatility is likely here to stay, and liquidity may suffer if investor uncertainty worsens," analysts at Citi said in a note.
Manufacturing surveys across the globe this week showed activity to be anaemic, with China and the United States both surprising on the downside.
That was one reason both the S&P 500 .SPX and the Nasdaq .IXIC suffered their worst starts to a year since 2001 [.N], while oil prices, despite simmering Gulf tensions, remain near recent 12-year lows .LCOc1
Furthermore, the end next Monday of a 6-month "lockup" on Chinese share sales by major institutional investors, may cause a massive evacuation from stocks, many fear.
The nervous backdrop, following on from last month's U.S. rate rise, the first in almost a decade, has boosted the dollar further against a basket of currencies following gains of around 11 percent in 2015 .DXY.
The dollar index rose 0.14 percent while the euro fell towards a one-month low against the greenback EUR=, down a quarter of a percent. The yen inched up 0.2 percent JPY= but stayed off Monday's highs.
Concerns are also focussed on the yuan which hit a new trough, aggravating the share market slump. China's currency has stabilised after interventions but the gap between the tightly managed onshore yuan and its freer offshore counterpart widened to 1.7 percent CNY= CNH=.
In the non-deliverable forward markets (NDFs) the yuan is trading around 6.87 per dollar, much weaker than its spot rate around 6.52 and approaching seven-year lows.
That is taking a toll on China-linked currencies such as the Australian and New Zealand dollars which were flat after falling more than 1 percent on Monday AUD= NZD=. Other emerging currencies including the Indonesian rupiah and the Russian rouble slumped between 0.4-0.8 percent [EMRG/FRX>.
(Additional reporting by Wayne Cole in Sydney, John Geddie and Jemima Kelly in London; Editing by Jamie McGeever and John Stonestreet)