Asian shares hit by trade friction, emerging market tumult; dollar up

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Published: September 4, 2018 10:23:30 AM

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down 0.3 percent. Chinese blue-chips also fell 0.3 percent, reversing earlier gains.

asian markets, global marketsAsian shares hit by trade friction, emerging market tumult; dollar up.

Asian shares fell and the dollar turned higher on Tuesday as the trade dispute between the United States and China threatened to escalate this week, and as emergency austerity measures in Argentina underscored the turbulence gripping emerging markets. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down 0.3 percent. Chinese blue-chips also fell 0.3 percent, reversing earlier gains.

Japan’s Nikkei slid less than 0.1 percent, while Australian shares were 0.4 percent lower ahead of a central bank policy meeting. On Monday, European shares ended mostly flat, though a weak British pound helped to lift London’s blue-chip FTSE almost 1 percent. U.S. markets were closed for Labor Day. But U.S. stock market futures edged higher on Tuesday, with S&P500 E-mini futures gaining 0.1 percent to 2905.5.

“The majors are the focus today rather than emerging markets,” said Greg McKenna, chief market strategist at Axi Trader in Sydney, noting that weak manufacturing data and the imposition of austerity measures in Argentina had drawn the market’s attention on Monday. “Today it’s back to where is the U.S. dollar going, and at the moment the vote in Asia has been it’s going to strengthen again,” he said.

“It’s utterly consistent that the U.S. dollar is strengthening at the same time that U.S. futures are rallying if what we’ve seen over the last two months, which is money being allocated to the U.S. and away from other regions, continues.” The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six major rivals, was 0.1 percent higher at 95.253. The dollar was up 0.05 percent against the yen to 111.12 , while the euro was down 0.2 percent on the day at $1.1599.

Manufacturing surveys released on Monday showed mounting stress on factories across Europe and Asia as the outlook for global trade dims. Also on Monday, Argentine President Mauricio Macri announced new taxes on exports and steep cuts to government spending in what he termed “emergency” measures to balance next year’s budget.

The Argentine peso closed 3.14 percent weaker on Monday and is expected to face further pressure in coming days. Turkey’s central bank signalled on Monday it would take steps to combat “significant risks” to price stability, comments seen as hinting at interest rate hikes. The lira, which has lost 40 percent of its value against the U.S. dollar this year, was 0.3 percent weaker at 6.6400 to the dollar.

Looming Tariffs

U.S. President Donald Trump gave fresh impetus to trade worries at the weekend when he said there was no need to keep Canada in the North American Free Trade Agreement and warned Congress not to meddle with the trade talks.
Trump was also reported to have said he is ready to impose tariffs on an additional $200 billion worth of imports from China as soon as a public comment period on the plan ends on Thursday.

“Markets are paying a little bit of attention to (Trump’s tariff threats) and wondering what might happen to European autos and, at the end of the day, what will happen with the Canadian side of NAFTA as well. There’s a lot of uncertainty there,” McKenna said. And in a sign of new market risks, a Reuters poll pointed to a one-in-four chance that Britain will leave the European Union in March without a deal.

The yield on benchmark 10-year Treasury notes rose to 2.8622 percent versus its U.S. close of 2.853 percent on Friday. The two-year yield, which rises with traders’ expectations of higher Fed fund rates, touched 2.633 percent compared with a U.S. close of 2.629 percent last week.

In commodity markets, U.S. oil prices rose past the $70 per barrel mark, with production coming under pressure as two Gulf of Mexico oil platforms were evacuated in preparation for a hurricane. U.S. crude was 0.3 higher at $70.04 per barrel. But Brent crude fell 0.1 percent to $78.08 per barrel after India permitted its state refiners to import Iranian oil if Iran arranges tankers and insurance. Gold was slightly lower as the dollar strengthened, with spot gold traded at $1,199.46 per ounce.

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