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Global stocks, yields tumble as trade frictions unnerve traders

Reuters NEW YORK | Updated on August 03, 2019 Published on August 03, 2019

A measure of stocks across the globe posted on Friday its largest weekly loss of the year.   -  istock.com

US 10-year yield posts biggest weekly drop in seven years

A measure of stocks across the globe posted on Friday its largest weekly loss of the year while yields in US and German debt were near or at multi-year lows, after China vowed to retaliate against a possible new round of US tariffs.

Oil prices bounced back from losses that exceeded 7 per cent the previous session and the yen scaled further against the dollar a day after its strongest daily gain in over two years. The moves followed a sharp Wall Street sell-off triggered by US President Donald Trump's threat on Thursday to impose a 10 per cent tariff on $300 billion worth of Chinese imports.

Read more: US 10-year yield posts biggest weekly drop in seven years

China did not specify how it would retaliate, but its ambassador to the United Nations Zhang Jun said Beijing would take “necessary countermeasures” to protect its rights and bluntly described Trump's move as “an irrational, irresponsible act.”

Trade war

Analysts have said retaliatory options include tariffs, a ban on export of rare earths used in everything from military equipment to consumer electronics, and penalties against US companies in China. The trade war between the world's largest economies has already dislocated global supply chains and slowed economic growth. The abrupt escalation capped a critical week for global markets after the US Federal Reserve delivered a widely anticipated interest rate cut but played down expectations of many more ahead.

“The tariff threat was a splash of cold water. The market had become accustomed to the current state of US-China trade negotiations, but a hike in tariffs wakes you up to the fact that the trade war is still with us,” said Michael Antonelli, market strategist at Robert W. Baird in Milwaukee.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 98.41 points, or 0.37 per cent, to 26,485.01, the S&P 500 lost 21.51 points, or 0.73%, to 2,932.05 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 107.05 points, or 1.32 per cent, to 8,004.07. The Wilshire 5000 total US stock market index lost $1.1 trillion in market capitalization over the week.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index lost 2.46 per cent, the most for any day this year, and MSCI's gauge of stocks across the globe shed 1.18 per cent. Emerging market stocks lost 2.03% and posted their ninth-straight session of declines, while futures in Japan's Nikkei lost 0.71 per cent.

More Fed cuts seen

US data on Friday showed employment growth in July slowed as expected, which along with trade turmoil may encourage the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates again in September. “On balance it is probably a slightly dollar-negative (employment) number because (it) increases the case for a Fed rate cut in September. We're already at the point where we're trading that,” said Greg Anderson, global head of foreign exchange strategy at BMO Capital Markets in New York.

A further 25-basis-point cut by the Fed is priced in for the central bank's September meeting while the chance of another cut in October is roughly 3-in-5 according to Fed futures markets. Safe-haven assets were bid across markets with German 10-year government bond yields dropping to an all-time low of -0.502 per cent and the country's entire government bond yield curve turning negative for the first time ever.

Benchmark 10-year notes last rose 14/32 in price to yield 1.8434 per cent, from 1.892 per cnet on Thursday. This week yields touched their lowest since Trump's election in November 2016 and the benchmark posted its largest weekly drop since 2012. “In the grand scheme of things, it will become clearer and clearer that the Federal Reserve has started an easing cycle and will have no choice but to cut rates further,” said Akira Takei, fund manager at Asset Management One.

In currency markets the Japanese yen, which on Thursday gained the most in over two years against the dollar, further strengthened 0.73 per cent to 106.59 per dollar. The Swiss franc reached a two-year high of 1.0906 against the euro, which bounced back from a two-year low of $1.1025 earlier in the week. The common currency was recently up 0.2 per cent to $1.1105.

The British pound held near a 30-month low versus the dollar as the governing Conservatives' majority in parliament was reduced to one seat, three months before the country is due to leave the European Union. Sterling was last trading at $1.2164, up 0.27 per cent on the day. US crude rose 2.35 per cent to $55.22 per barrel and Brent was last at $61.30, up 1.32 per cent on the day.

Published on August 03, 2019
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