Global stocks mixed after US, China impose new tariff hikes

Investors sit on chairs as they watch stock market movements displayed on screens at a securities company in Beijing in this file photo taken on Aug. 26. (AFP)
Updated 02 September 2019

Global stocks mixed after US, China impose new tariff hikes

  • Surveys of Chinese factory activity show weak demand amid mounting tariff war with Washington

BEIJING: European stock markets opened higher while Asia was mixed Monday after Washington and Beijing escalated their war over trade and technology with new tariff hikes.

Benchmarks in London, Paris and Shanghai advanced. Tokyo and Hong Kong declined.

Markets reacted less strongly to the weekend tariff hikes on billions of dollars of goods than to previous increases. Investors are hoping for progress in talks this month, but analysts warn the fight over trade and technology is unlikely to be quickly resolved.

“The short-lived truce will probably provide limited relief,” said Zhu Huani of Mizuho Bank in a report. “Businesses have become increasingly uncertain about future prospects, evidenced by the pullback in business investment amidst growing concerns on growth.”

In early trading, London’s FTSE 100 rose 0.9 percent to 7,274.50 and France’s CAC 40 added 0.1 percent to 5,487.74. Germany’s DAX was 10 points higher at 11,949.88.

US markets were closed for a holiday.

In Asia, the Shanghai Composite Index gained 1.3 percent to 2,924.11 while Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 shed 0.4 percent to 20,620.19. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 0.4 percent to 25,626.55.

Seoul’s Kospi ended 1 point higher at 1,969.19 and Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 retreated 0.4 percent to 6,579.40. New Zealand and Taiwan gained while Southeast Asia markets retreated.

On Sunday, the US started charging 15 percent tax on about $112 billion of Chinese imports. China responded by charging taxes of 10 percent and 5 percent on a list of American goods.

Negotiators are due to meet this month in Washington but neither side has given any sign it might offer concessions.

The United States is pressing China to narrow its trade surplus and roll back plans for government-led creation of global competitors in robotics and other industries. Its trading partners say those violate its free-trade obligations and are based on stealing or pressuring companies to hand over technology.

The two governments have imposed higher taxes on about two-thirds of the goods they import from each other.

“We’ll see what happens,” President Donald Trump told reporters. “But we can’t allow China to rip us off anymore as a country.”

On Wall Street, stocks ended little changed Friday after a listless day of trading ahead of a holiday weekend.

The market closed out August with its second monthly decline this year, after May.

Financial, industrial and health care stocks were among the big winners. Those sectors outweighed losses in consumer goods makers and communication services stocks. Shares in companies that rely on consumer spending also fell.

The S&P 500 index rose 0.1% to 2,926.46. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.2% to 26,403.28. The Nasdaq slid 0.1% to 7,962.88.

Two surveys of Chinese factory activity showed demand is weak amid the mounting tariff war with Washington.

The business magazine Caixin said its monthly purchasing managers’ index showed activity edging up but a gauge of new orders fell to its lowest level this year. A separate survey by an industry group, the China Federation of Logistics & Purchasing, showed activity declining. It said demand was “relatively weak.”


IMF experts visit Lebanon amid worsening economic crisis

Updated 20 February 2020

IMF experts visit Lebanon amid worsening economic crisis

  • IMF team will provide broad technical advice
  • Lebanon has not requested IMF financial assistance

BEIRUT: A team of IMF experts met Prime Minister Hassan Diab on Thursday at the start of a visit to provide Lebanon with advice on tackling a deepening financial and economic crisis, an official Lebanese source said.

The IMF has said the team will visit until Feb. 23 and provide broad technical advice. Lebanon has not requested financial assistance from the Fund.

The long-brewing economic crisis spiraled last year as capital flows into the country slowed and protests erupted against the ruling elite over decades of corruption and bad governance.

Diab’s government, which took office last month, must decide what to do about upcoming debt payments, notably a $1.2 billion dollar-denominated sovereign bond due on March 9.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun meanwhile said on Thursday measures would be taken to hold to account all those who contributed to Lebanon’s financial crisis through illegal actions be they transfers abroad, manipulation of Eurobonds or other acts.

“There is information that we are still in need of with regards to the banking situation. There are measures that we will take to hold to account all who participated in bringing the crisis to where it is,” Aoun said, according to his Twitter account.

Opinion

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One of Lebanon’s most influential politicians, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, said on Wednesday that debt restructuring was the best solution for looming maturities.

Lebanon will on Friday review proposals from firms bidding to give it financial and legal advice on its options, a source familiar with the matter said on Thursday. The government aims to take a quick decision on who to appoint, the source said.

So far, firms bidding to be Lebanon’s legal adviser are Dechert, Cleary Gottlieb, and White and Case, the source said.

Lebanon has issued requests for proposals to seven firms to provide it with financial advice.

The government on Wednesday formed a committee tasked with preparing an economic recovery plan that includes ministers, government officials, a central bank representative and economists, according to a copy of a decree seen by Reuters.