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US-China trade war hits oil markets

WT24 Desk

Wall Street ended lower on Friday and global stocks continued to slide after US president Donald Trump announced new tariffs on Chinese goods, while oil plummeted 3 per cent on expectations that Saudi Arabia and Russia output would soon increase, according to Reuters .

Trump announced hefty tariffs on $50 billion of Chinese imports starting on 6 July, with Beijing immediately vowing to respond in kind, intensifying fears of a growing trade war between the world’s two biggest economies.

Trump unveiled a 25 per cent tariff on a list of strategically important imports from China, including cars, promising further measures if Beijing struck back.

“Investors are worried that with the trade war escalating, today it’s better to sell out… and take profits,” said Michael O’Rourke, chief market strategist at JonesTrading in Greenwich, Connecticut.

MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe                 shed 0.48 per cent, while the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index lost 1.00 per cent.

Emerging market stocks were hit particularly hard, tumbling 1.06 per cent, a move maybe attributable as much to a strong dollar as to trade tensions.

In commodities, soybeans sank as the US-China trade spat threatened shipments to the world’s biggest buyer of the oilseed. Soybean futures fell 2.5 per cent, hitting their lowest level since June 23 of last year.

ICE cotton futures also dropped on the day.

Trump’s decision on tariffs comes a day after stock markets rallied on the European Central Bank’s decision to hold off on raising rates at least until the middle of next year.

By the close of US markets, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 84.83 points, or 0.34 per cent, to 25,090.48, the S&P 500        lost 3.07 points, or 0.11 per cent, to 2,779.42 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 14.66 points, or 0.19 per cent, to 7,746.38.

The outbreak of a global trade war has been the most frequently cited “biggest tail risk” by investors this year in Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s monthly survey of global fund managers, on the back of ramped up protectionist rhetoric and measures by the US administration.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan closed 0.65 per cent lower, with Chinese stocks leading the losses.

OPEC in Focus

World oil markets cratered on fears of increased supply, with US Crude on track for its biggest decline since 15 May, and to end the week down 1.3 per cent. Brent was headed for a 4 per cent loss on the week.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries is slated to meet next week in Vienna, with two of the biggest producers – Saudi Arabia and Russia – indicating they were prepared to increase output.

“Everyone is talking about raising production – the only question is by how much,” said Bob Yawger, director, energy at Mizuho in New York.

US crude         settled at $65.06 per barrel, down 2.74 per cent, and Brent crude was last at $73.44, down 3.29 per cent.

In currencies, the US dollar slipped against the safe-haven yen in the wake of the announced tariffs, while the dollar index       , which measures the greenback against six currencies, rose 0.01 per cent.

The euro, which on Thursday suffered its biggest fall against the dollar in two years after the ECB’s interest rate decision, rose up 0.35 per cent to $1.1607.

Trade fears drove demand for safe government bonds, causing US Treasury yields to fall to their lowest levels in a week. Benchmark 10-year notes last rose 7/32 in price to yield 2.9223 per cent, from 2.946 per cent late on Thursday.

The 30-year bond last rose 14/32 in price to yield 3.0434 per cent, from 3.066 per cent Thursday.

“You’ve seen a little bit of a risk-off trade, which is aiding in the Treasury rally,” said Justin Lederer, an interest rate strategist at Cantor Fitzgerald in New York.

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