Stock Markets Retreat As US-China Tensions Rise

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Global equities took a beating Friday as China-US tensions intensified, while stalled stimulus talks in Washington fuelled fears for the economy, although Europe saw a batch of bright data.

Lingering worries about the impact on businesses of fresh coronavirus outbreaks helped trigger major profit-taking, traders said.

“It’s a sour end to the trading week,” said AJ Bell investment director Russ Mould.

On Wall Street, the Dow shed around 130 points at the opening bell “adding to yesterday’s declines in morning action, as friction between the US and China heated up overnight”, said Charles Schwab analysts.

European indices were up to two percent lower by the mid-afternoon.

Earlier in Asia, Shanghai and Hong Kong had already dived as relations between the world’s two superpowers took another bad turn when China ordered the closure of the US consulate in Chengdu in retaliation for America shuttering Beijing’s diplomatic mission in Houston this week.

The standoff is the latest in a string of issues — including Hong Kong, coronavirus and Huawei — that have plunged relations between the superpowers into crisis.

Stock markets were also still reeling from Thursday’s report of a rise in new jobless claims in the US which prompted doubts about any ongoing economic rebound there, traders reported.

Hopes that the data would spur US lawmakers to push on with fresh stimulus measures were undermined by the inability of Republicans and the White House to agree on a $1.0 trillion stimulus proposal.

Haven asset gold meanwhile jumped within spitting distance of $1,900 for the first time since late 2011, boosted by economic uncertainty, geopolitical tensions and Federal Reserve monetary easing that has weakened the dollar.

Oil staged a rebound after tanking Thursday on energy demand worries.

London – FTSE 100: DOWN 1.4 percent at 6,127.02 points

Frankfurt – DAX 30: DOWN 2.0 percent at 12,846.41

Paris – CAC 40: DOWN 1.4 percent at 4,964.30

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 1.7 percent at 3,314.95

New York – Dow: DOWN 0.5 percent at 26,520.54

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: DOWN 2.2 percent at 24,705.33 (close)

Shanghai – Composite: DOWN 3.9 percent at 3,196.77 (close)

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: Closed for a holiday

New York – Dow: DOWN 1.3 percent at 26,652.33 (close)

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1617 from $1.1596 at 2100 GMT

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 106.09 yen from 106.86 yen

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2768 from $1.2741

Euro/pound: DOWN at 91.00 pence from 91.02

West Texas Intermediate: UP 0.8 percent at $41.41 per barrel

Brent North Sea crude: UP 0.6 percent at $43.58

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