EQUITIES

Global stock markets confused as US and China spar, bring trade-tension to the forefront again

Asian stock markets, asia stocks, Fed chief, coronavirus pandemic, Huawei, Shanghai Composite Index, Steven Mnuchin, american economy

By Adam Haigh

Asian stocks began the week in mixed fashion as traders weighed more signs of economies reopening around the world against the rise in U.S.-China tensions. Hong Kong shares extended Friday’s slide, following police clashes with protesters marching against China’s move to crack down on dissent. Stocks climbed in Tokyo, Sydney and Seoul, and fluctuated in Shanghai. S&P 500 futures nudged higher, building on a rally from late in the Friday session. Oil traded near $33 a barrel in New York. Volumes may be light with holidays in the U.S., U.K. and Singapore. China set its daily yuan reference rate at the weakest level since 2008 after the increasing tensions drove the currency to a seven-month low.

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On the virus front, Japan’s government is expected to lift the state of emergency in Tokyo and its surrounding regions later Monday, while more Australian children returned to schools and a hard-hit region in northern Italy reported zero fatalities for the first time. Still, the U.S. is considering restricting travel from Brazil, which now has the second-highest number of cases.

Fresh turmoil in Hong Kong that spilled over into street protests at the weekend is threatening to damage an already souring Sino-U.S. relationship. The U.S. should give up its “wishful thinking” of changing China, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said, warning that American leaders are potentially pushing toward a new Cold War. Bullish sentiment is prevailing for now and global equities remain about 30% higher than the March lows, spurred by stimulus measures and optimism for a swift rebound from the virus.

“One big threat to the recovery in markets is the escalating war of words between the U.S. and China,” said Shane Oliver, head of investment strategy at AMP Capital Investors Ltd. in Sydney. “The main focus will likely remain on continuing evidence that the number of new Covid-19 cases is slowing in developed countries, progress towards medical solutions, the reopening of economies and signs that economic activity is picking up.”

These are the main moves in markets:

Stocks

Futures on the S&P 500 rose 0.3% as of 1 p.m. in Tokyo. The gauge rose 0.2% on Friday.

Japan’s Topix index advanced 1.2%.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng slid 1%.

Shanghai Composite was little changed.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index added 1.5%.

South Korea’s Kospi Index gained 0.7%.

Euro Stoxx 50 futures rose 0.6%.

Currencies

The yen was little changed at 107.73 per dollar.

The offshore yuan held at 7.1520 per dollar.

The euro bought $1.0889, down 0.1%.

The Aussie dipped 0.1% to 65.34 U.S. cents.

Bonds

The yield on 10-year Treasuries fell one basis point to 0.66% on Friday. Futures traded flat.

Australian 10-year yields were steady at 0.87%.

Commodities

West Texas Intermediate crude added 1% to $33.58 a barrel.

Gold dipped 0.4% to $1,728.52 an ounce.

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