European stock markets have opened in the red again this morning following the lead of Asia overnight.

A sell-off of stocks began in New York on Tuesday over concerns for the prospects for economic growth and growing doubts about the durability of a 90 day truce in the trade dispute between the US and China.

The developments on stock markets this week have been a microcosm of recent developments.

A rally on Monday followed by a sell off on Tuesday is reflective of the kind of volatility that's been evident in recent months.

"What we saw on Tuesday was an outsized daily move. It's not surprising and we can expect more," Des Lawrence, Senior Investment Strategist with State Street Global Advisors, SSgA, said.


 

"It's late in the economic cycle and investors are taking stock and reassessing the situation. It's not unusual to see this volatility. It doesn't mean the case is broken for investors. It's still a fruitful journey but it will be a bit more volatile," he said.

Des Lawrence described the longest bull run in history as 'mature.' "We can expect a bit more, but it's not going to go on forever," he said. 

"There is enough momentum to encourage investors to stay in stocks. They are a worthy pursuit. Earnings are growing at a substantial clip - 20% this year, 9.5% expected next year. Good gains can still be harvested, but it's going to be a more volatile environment," he explained.

Traders have been very exercised in recent days by a phenomenon called the 'yield curve inversion.'

"It's the difference between short term and long term interest rates. In the US, it has an association with a subsequent recession. There's not a strong relationship. People watch it for signals of a potential recession," Mr Lawrence explained. 

"A word of caution though - Central Banks hold a lot of longer term instruments which can manipulate that signal a little bit. It also doesn't tell us anything about the size of a potential recession - whether it's shallow or deep," Des Lawrence said.

As far as Europe is concerned, Brexit will be an important determinant of the outcome next year, but there is also political uncertainty in Italy with some uncertainty developing in France in recent weeks too.

The effect of Brexit on the pound has been well documented but there could be a significant impact on the euro.

"The sterling-euro rate hasn't moved a lot. It's stayed around the 88-89 pence mark. It's not just a UK story though. The euro zone has a big interest in having a decent trading relationship with the UK. The euro zone economy isn't in great shape either," he added.

So could that mean a longer time scale for zero percent interest rates?

"It's dangerous to read short term signals. We've seen some tempering on expectations in the US around rates. It's conceivable that could happen in Europe too," he concluded.