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China trade dispute weighs on equity markets

A broad index of world stock markets edged lower yesterday as it struggled to maintain momentum amid lingering concerns over a trade dispute between Washington and Beijing.

MSCI’s index of global equities inched 0.17 per cent lower on the day as investors awaited action from US President Donald Trump after the expiry of a deadline for public comment on additional tariffs on Chinese goods.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index lost 0.13 per cent.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 18.22 points, or 0.07 per cent, to 25,875.29, the S&P 500 gained 0.28 points, or 0.01 per cent, to 2,877.41 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 2.09 points, or 0.03 per cent, to 7,922.07.

“The fact that Trump still hasn’t announced the tariffs yet has prompted a bit of cautious optimism, but it’s not a problem that’s going to go away,” said CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson.

Emerging markets remained under pressure, with the broad MSCI index of those countries currencies down near 16-month lows and the Indian rupee near a record trough against the US dollar.

An index of emerging market shares lost 0.93 per cent.

Copper lost 1.19 per cent to $5,839.50 a tonne.

Having warned last week that he was ready to slap additional taxes on practically all Chinese imports, Mr Trump was uncharacteristically quiet on trade on Monday.

China will respond if the United States takes any new steps on trade, the foreign ministry said earlier this week, after Mr Trump warned he was ready to slap tariffs on virtually all Chinese imports into the United States.

Separately, it emerged China would ask the World Trade Organization next week for permission to impose sanctions on the United States for Washington’s non-compliance with a ruling in a dispute over US dumping duties that China initiated in 2013, a meeting agenda showed yesterday.

“Weakness is set to remain a recurring theme amid global trade tensions, a broadly stronger dollar and prospects of higher US interest rates,” said Lukman Otunuga, a research analyst at broker FXTM.

“With turmoil in Turkey and Argentina triggering contagion fears, appetite for emerging market assets and currencies is likely to continue diminishing.”

Oil prices ignored the threat to demand posed by a trade war that could slow economic growth, instead taking its cue from looming US sanctions against Iran’s petroleum industry that could hurt supply.

US crude rose 1.67 percent to $68.67 per barrel and Brent was last at $78.59, up 1.58 per cent.

Spot gold dropped 0.3 per cent to $1,191.95 an ounce as the dollar resumed its ascent amid the risk-off sentiment and looming US interest rate increases. The dollar index rose 0.11 per cent.

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