Global stocks mixed amid Brexit, trade uncertainty

BEIJING (AP) — Global stocks were mixed yesterday as political wrangling over Brexit heated up and investors looked for developments in the United States (US)-China trade war.

Markets in Europe declined after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson asked Queen Elizabeth II to suspend Parliament, which would hamper lawmakers’ efforts to quash a no-deal Brexit at the end of October.

The British pound sank on the news, down to USD1.2215 from almost USD1.2300 the previous day. Shares on London’s FTSE 100, which usually rises when the pound falls due to the many multinationals listed there, declined 0.3 per cent to 7,071. Frankfurt’s DAX fell 1.2 per cent to 11,584, while France’s CAC 40 was off one per cent at 5,330 in midday trading.

Meanwhile, the US-China trade front continues to create uncertainty. With little to no news after US President Donald Trump’s conflicting comments this week on the status of negotiations, investors are “finding it difficult to put a finger as to where the ongoing US-China trade issue is headed,” Jingyi Pan of IG said in a report.

“The saying that we are a tweet (from Trump) away from the next trade escalation between US and China had certainly grown to become the broad view.”

Currency traders watch their computer monitors near the screens showing the Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) and the foreign exchange rate between the US dollar and South Korean won at the foreign exchange dealing room in Seoul, South Korea yesterday. PHOTO: AP

Dow and S&P 500 futures were both down about 0.2 per cent before markets opened.

US and Chinese trade negotiators are due to meet next month in Washington, but neither side has given any indication of offering concessions to break a deadlock.

A round of talks last month in Shanghai ended with no sign of progress.

Washington and Beijing fuelled investor pessimism last Friday with an additional round of tit-for-tat tariff hikes. Their punitive duties on billions of dollars of each other’s goods already have battered exporters on both sides and prompted forecasters to cut economic growth outlooks.

“There are no grounds to believe China will concede to a deal based on unilateral, lopsided demands under rising tariffs duress,” Mizuho Bank said in a report.

Markets rose after Trump said on Monday that Beijing was ready to talk seriously about a worsening tariff war over trade and technology following two weekend phone calls. But investors were left guessing after a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman couldn’t confirm any exchange took place. On Tuesday, US stocks declined as investors shifted money from stocks to government bonds, gold and other safe-haven assets.

In Asia, the Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.3 per cent to 2,893.76 and Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 advanced 0.1 per cent to 20,479.42. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng retreated 0.2 per cent to 25,615.48.

Seoul’s Kospi rose 0.9 per cent to 1,941.09 and Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 gained 0.4 per cent to 6,500.60. India’s Sensex shed 0.5 per cent to 37,450.81.

ENERGY

Benchmark US crude gained 71 cents to USD55.64 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose USD1.29 on Tuesday to close at USD54.93. Brent crude, used to price international oils, added 59 cents to USD59.62 per barrel in London. It advanced 91 cents the previous session to USD59.03.

CURRENCY

The dollar was off slightly at JPY105.73. The euro also fell slightly to USD1.1086.