Stock selloff snowballs on fresh fears for world growth

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer speaks during a Cabinet meeting held by US President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, October 17, 2018. — Reuters pic
US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer speaks during a Cabinet meeting held by US President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, October 17, 2018. — Reuters pic

LONDON, Dec 10 — Losses on global stocks snowballed today, with following Asian peers lower as fresh signs emerged of slowing growth worldwide and fears grew that simmering US- tensions would torpedo chances of a trade deal.

was set to open lower, futures indicated, after New York-listed shares posted their biggest weekly decline since March.

“Another day, another reason to sell risk. remain in a world of pain with everyone in search of a very elusive silver lining,” said Stephen Innes at brokerage OANDA

MSCI’s all-country index has spent four weeks in the red, despite intermittent rallies fuelled by hopes of trade war detente. The pessimism has been exacerbated by data showing the world’s largest economies — the United States, China, Japan and Germany — are all headed for slower growth.

That pushed the index 0.5 per cent lower, while a pan-European index fell almost one per cent by 0930 GMT and US equity futures were down 0.5 per cent, suggesting more pressure on Wall Street later in the session.

Last week’s arrest of the chief financial officer of Chinese smartphone maker Huawei for extradition to the United States was seen putting up another hurdle to the resolution of a trade war between the world’s two biggest economies.

US trade representative Robert Lighthizer said yesterday there was a “hard deadline” to the 90-day trade ceasefire and without a successful end to talks by March 1, Washington would impose new tariffs on Chinese goods.

“The trade theme will preoccupy the markets through the 90-day truce period between the United States and China, waiting for any signs of concession between the parties,” said Soichiro Monji, senior economist at Daiwa SB Investments in Tokyo.

Economic data has disappointed, too, underscoring the impact of the trade wars on the .

Following weak trade and data on the weekend, China posted far weaker-than-expected November exports and imports, reinforcing expectations Beijing will roll out more stimulus to prevent the economy cooling too fast.

However, the yuan sagged to a one-week low after the weak data.

“(The data) would suggest China woes go well beyond US tariffs, given that China trade surplus to the US was at a record level. One can only imagine the impact on China terms of trade if the US follows through with a 25 per cent tariff,” Innes of OANDA said.

Japan posted the worst contraction in over four years in the third quarter as uncertainty over global demand and trade saw companies slashing capital spending.

MSCI’s index of Asian outside Japan slid 1.5 per cent to a near three-week low, Shanghai shares retreated 0.6 per cent and Japan’s Nikkei shed 2.1 per cent. Emerging-market stocks lost 1.3 per cent.

Asia’s data came after investors were spooked last week by below-forecast industrial output numbers in Germany and US jobs data showing employers hired fewer workers than expected in November.

The slowdown signs also have pummelled oil prices, which have slumped around 30 per cent since early October. futures rose 0.2 per cent to US$61.90 a barrel after producer club OPEC and some non-affiliated producers announced a supply cut.

Data and dollar, parliament and protests

The US jobs data weakened the dollar by convincing many that US growth has peaked and the Federal Reserve will pause its rate tightening sooner than previously thought. Last week, the dollar posted its worst performance since August against a basket of currencies.

The dollar was a touch firmer today but stayed near two-week lows. The euro rose 0.3 per cent at US$1.1418.

European investors were keeping their eyes on events in Britain and France.

Sterling inched lower, heading back towards 17-month lows hit last week versus the dollar, as British Prime Minister Theresa May’s European Union divorce deal looks set to be rejected by parliament in a Tuesday vote.

While that raises fears of a chaotic exit in March, those hoping for a no-Brexit outcome were encouraged by a ruling from the EU’s top court that Britain can revoke its decision to leave the bloc without the consent of other EU members.

France, meanwhile, suffered a fourth weekend of anti-government riots, which the finance minister said could curb economic growth by 0.1 percentage point.

French hotel, transport and retail stocks fell. The yield premium investors demand to hold French bonds over German peers rose to the highest since May .

President Emmanuel Macron, already forced to row back on fuel tax increases, will make a televised address at 1900 GMT.

“Concern about a bit of political and fiscal capitulation is rarely good for a market,” said Chris Bailey, European strategist at Raymond James. — Reuters

Source: The Malay Mail Online

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