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Equities slide as Trump revives trade war fears

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Global stock markets fell Monday after US President Donald Trump sparked fears of a renewed trade war with China over its role in the coronavirus pandemic.

From the outset, European equities kicked lower on simmering US-China tensions with Frankfurt and Paris playing catch-up with London after a long holiday weekend.

The region’s losses came despite millions of Europeans emerging from lockdown on Monday, with hardest-hit Italy leading the way out of its two-month coronavirus confinement.

Asian stocks also dipped into negative territory, tracking pre-weekend falls on Wall Street as investors returned from an extended weekend break to send Hong Kong stocks down 4.2 percent, although Shanghai and Tokyo remained shut.

Oil prices declined from last week’s surge while the US dollar was on the front foot against the European single currency.

“Risk sentiment is very fragile as we enter another critical week in terms of economic and corporate data. Tail risks are rising and Donald Trump’s attacks on China are really not helping,” Swissquote Bank analyst Ipek Ozkardeskaya told AFP.

“Equities in Europe opened sharply lower, as expected. Losses in the FTSE were less than the rest of the European continent, but the investor mood points at further losses throughout the session.”

Trump had hinted he could impose new tariffs on China over its handling of the virus outbreak, claiming he had seen evidence linking a Wuhan lab to the contagion.

The claim, repeated by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, overshadowed a further slowdown in the number of infections and deaths from COVID-19.

– ‘Beating trade war drums‘ –
It also comes as Trump faces a tough fight to be re-elected in November with the economy slumping and millions of Americans losing their jobs because of the virus crisis.

“President Trump is back beating the trade war drums… and increasing the odds of a significant volatility risk event as all roads lead back to trade and tariff,” said AxiCorp’s Stephen Innes.

He added that “while the market is already factoring in a less globalised world during the initial phase of the post-pandemic recovery as economies internalise, rekindling a dormant US-China trade war will likely make any economic improvement exponentially more difficult. And ripping up the trade agreement will trigger a global equity market rout.”

The equity losses on Monday came after all three main indexes on Wall Street dived by between 2.6 and 3.2 percent on Friday, having enjoyed their best month in decades in April.

Oil prices dropped after surging last week as top producers began to ease up on the pumps as part of a deal agreed last month to slash output by 10 million barrels a day.

Key figures around 1115 GMT
London – FTSE 100: DOWN 0.2 percent at 5,751.33 points

Frankfurt – DAX 30: DOWN 3.2 percent at 10,517.01

Paris – CAC 40: DOWN 3.7 percent at 4,401.56

Milan – FTSE MIB: DOWN 3.1 percent at 17,142.97

Madrid – IBEX 35: DOWN 2.6 percent at 6,743.30

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 3.4 percent at 2,829.02

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: DOWN 4.2 percent at 23,613.80 (close)

Shanghai – Composite: Closed for a holiday

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: Closed for a holiday

New York – Dow: DOWN 2.6 percent at 23,723.69 (close)

Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 2.9 percent at $25.78 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 7.9 percent at $18.22 per barrel

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.0971 from $1.1046 at 2100 GMT on Friday

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 106.76 yen from 106.91

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2434 from $1.2506

Euro/pound: UP at 87.99 pence from 87.81 pence


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