HONG KONG (AP) — World stock markets slid Wednesday after China announced details of its plans to retaliate against the proposed U.S. tariff hikes, in a escalation of trade tensions between the world’s two biggest economies.
KEEPING SCORE: European markets sank in early trading. Germany’s DAX fell 1.1 percent to 11,867.14 and France’s CAC 40 shed 0.4 percent to 5,130.70. Britain’s FTSE 100 lost 0.4 percent to 7,001.65. Wall Street was poised for a big sell-off, with Dow futures tumbling 1.8 percent to 23,557.00. Broader S&P 500 futures slumped 1.5 percent to 2,575.00.
ASIAN SCORECARD: Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 crept 0.1 percent higher to end at 21,319.55 but South Korea’s Kospi slid 1.4 percent to 2,408.06 as the won weakened from the 3 ½ year high it touched against the dollar earlier this week, motivating foreign investors to take profits. The Shanghai Composite slipped 0.2 percent to 3,131.11 and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 edged 0.2 percent higher to 5,761.40. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng slumped 2.2 percent to 29,518.69 with the decline accelerating in the final minutes of trading after Beijing announced specifics of its tariff hikes. Shares also fell in Singapore, Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia and India.
TARIFF TENSIONS: Beijing and Washington detailed plans to hike tariffs on a broad swath of imported goods from each other, in a series of rapid fire announcements over less than 24 hours that ratcheted up tensions over their trade dispute. China issued a $50 billion list of more than 100 U.S. goods including soybeans and aircraft targeted for a possible 25 percent tariff hike, releasing it after trading ended in most Asian markets. Beijing was responding to an announcement hours earlier by President Donald Trump’s administration outlining proposed tariffs on 1,300 imported Chinese products, including industrial robots and telecoms gear, to protest Beijing’s alleged theft of U.S. technology. China’s envoy to the WTO said Beijing would challenge the U.S. moves. The Chinese Commerce Ministry said the date the tariff hikes take effect depends on whether the U.S. actually moves to raise its duties.
INVESTOR INSIGHT: “We’re in for waves and waves and waves of bad news in the trade war front,” said Stephen Innes, trader at OANDA. “I think now what they’re clearly signaling is ’You hit us, we’ll hit you,” he said, adding that investors were fleeing to the yen and gold, which are traditionally seen as havens from risk.
WALL STREET: Major U.S. benchmarks ended higher after a late rally. The S&P 500 index rose 1.3 percent to 2,614.45. It dropped 2.2 percent a day earlier. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 1.6 percent to 24,033.36. The Nasdaq composite climbed 1 percent to 6,941.28.
CURRENCIES: The dollar slipped to 106.14 yen from 106.62 yen in late trading Tuesday. The euro rose to $1.2294 from $1.2272.
ENERGY: Oil’s rally fizzled. A barrel of U.S. crude lost $1.23 to $62.26 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained 50 cents to settle at $63.51 on Tuesday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell $1.31 to $66.81 a barrel in London.
– Here are the top five things you need to know in financial markets on Wednesday, April 4:
1. China Announces Retaliatory Tariffs Against U.S. Goods
China hit back at the Trump administration’s plan to slap tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese goods, retaliating with a list of similar duties on key U.S. imports, including soybeans, planes, cars, whiskey and chemicals.
Beijing’s list of 25% additional tariffs on U.S. goods covers 106 items with a trade value matching the $50 billion targeted on Washington’s list, China’s commerce and finance ministries said.
The effective date will depend on when the U.S. action takes effect.
The move comes one day after the Trump administration pushed ahead with plans to slap tariffs on about $50 billion of Chinese industrial and hi-tech products, adding to market fears that world’s two largest economies are spiraling towards a trade war that could shake the global economy.
2. U.S. Stock Futures Hit Hard As ‘Trade War’ Worries Escalate
U.S. stock futures pointed to sharp losses at the open, as appetite for riskier assets weakened amid worries that escalating U.S.-China trade tensions could deal a blow to the global economy and U.S. growth.
Of note, industrial companies with significant exposure to China were showing big losses in premarket action, with plane manufacturer Boeing (NYSE:BA) dropping as much as 6%, while heavy-machinery maker Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT) fell 4%.
Elsewhere, in Europe, the continent’s major bourses declined in mid-morning trade, with most sectors trading in negative territory, as worries over a brewing trade war dented morale.
Earlier, in Asia, most of the bourses in the region closed mixed, as the overnight bounce on Wall Street stalled.
3. Dollar Slumps As China Hits Back At U.S.
The dollar slumped against the Japanese yen, as safe haven demand was boosted by escalating trade tensions after China announced countermeasures against the latest U.S. tariffs.
USD/JPY was down nearly 0.4% to 106.15, after sliding to an overnight low of 105.69.
The yen, typically viewed as a safe-haven currency, tends to be sought out by investors during times of political or economic uncertainty.
The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback’s strength against a trade-weighted basket of six major currencies, dipped 0.2% to 89.69.
In the bond market, the U.S. 10-year Treasury yield inched down to 2.770%.
Looking ahead, the highlight of Wednesday’s economic calendar will be the ADP jobs report at 8:15AM ET (1215GMT). Expectations are 208,000 private jobs were created in March.
An ISM survey on service sector activity for March is then due at 10:00AM ET (1400GMT), amid forecasts for a slight dip to 59.0.
4. U.S. Grain Prices Take A Nosedive
U.S. grain futures took a nosedive, with the price of soybeans and corn faring the worst, as investors fret over a slowdown in Chinese demand for U.S. agricultural goods in the wake of China’s latest trade measure.
The Asian nation is one of the world’s biggest importers of U.S. grains.
Soybean futures for May delivery fell 5.3% to $9.8350 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade.
Meanwhile, corn futures were down 4.2% to $3.7225 a bushel.
5. Oil Prices Struggle Ahead Of EIA Supply Data
Oil traders looked ahead to fresh weekly data on U.S. commercial crude inventories to gauge the strength of demand in the world’s largest oil consumer and how fast output levels will continue to rise.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration will release its weekly report on oil supplies at 10:30AM ET (1430GMT), amid analyst expectations for a gain of 1.4 million barrels.
The American Petroleum Institute said late Tuesday that U.S. oil inventories fell by 3.3 million barrels in the week ended March 30. There are often sharp divergences between the API estimates and the official figures from EIA.