Asian shares hobbled by new tariff threat

Reuters SYDNEY | Updated on September 17, 2018 Published on September 17, 2018

Asian share markets slipped on Monday. (File photo)

Asian share markets slipped on Monday amid reports Washington was about to announce a new round of tariffs on Chinese imports, setting the stage for possible reprisals by Beijing.

Liquidity was thin with Japan on holiday, keeping early moves modest. Hong Kong markets could also be disrupted after a super typhoon brushed the city on its way to landfall in China's Guangdong, the country's most populous province.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan dipped 0.26 per cent, snapping three straight sessions of gains. Australian shares eased 0.2 per cent, while EMini futures for the S&P 500 were off 0.19 per cent. Treasury futures were little changed, as were the major currencies.

US President Donald Trump is likely to announce new tariffs on about $200 billion on Chinese imports as early as Monday, a senior administration official told Reuters. The tariff level will probably be about 10 per cent, the Wall Street Journal reported, below the 25 per cent the administration had said it was considering. It also reported Beijing may decline to participate in proposed trade talks with the United States later this month if the Trump administration moves forward with the tariffs.

Other officials who advise the country's leaders are suggesting China impose limits on the sale of parts and supplies needed by US businesses, using “export restraints” to threaten their supply chains.

“Further escalation looks very likely in which the rate will likely be raised to 25 per cent and more US tariffs threatened, while China may potentially pull out of trade talks entirely and escalate on the new front of outright export restrictions,” wrote analysts at JPMorgan. “This would of course only inflame the situation further.”

In currency markets the dollar index was a fraction firmer at 94.940, having bounced from a low of 94.359 at the end of last week. The euro held at $1.1628 after retreating from a peak of $1.1721 on Friday, which also marks stiff chart resistance. The dollar was idling at 111.95 yen having run into offers around 112.15/20.

In commodity markets, gold was stuck at $1,193.10 an ounce and some way from last week's top at $1,212.65. Oil prices eased in early trade with Brent off 9 cents at $78.00 a barrel, while US crude fell 17 cents to $68.82.

Published on September 17, 2018
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