SINGAPORE: World markets were subdued on Friday after President Donald Trump said he doesn’t plan to meet Chinese leader Xi Jinping before their truce on raising tariffs in a festering trade dispute ends in early March.
France’s CAC 40 rose 0.3 percent to 5,001.28 and the DAX in Germany was 0.1 percent higher at 11,030.49. Britain’s FTSE 100 index added 0.2 percent to 7,108.82 as Prime Minister Theresa May and the European Union agreed to more negotiations over an exit deal.
Wall Street was set for early losses. Futures for the S&P 500 index shed 0.3 percent to 2,696.10. Dow futures lost 0.3 percent to 25,062.00.
On Thursday, Trump did not dismiss the possibility of meeting Xi in the next month or so. But he shook his head and said no when reporters asked if the meeting would take place before March 2. That marks the end of a 90-day tariffs truce mooted after Trump and Xi met in December.
Unless American and Chinese negotiators come to a new agreement, the U.S. is expected to raise import taxes from 10 percent to 25 percent for $200 billion in Chinese goods. The trade dispute between the world’s two largest economies, which has cooled in recent months, has weighed on the outlook of businesses and the global economy.
“The worries surround the uncertainties of a resolution to the likelihood of further tariffs in this on-again, off-again confidence with regards to a deal,” Jingyi Pan of IG said in a market commentary.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin and trade representative Robert Lighthizer are to lead a delegation to Beijing next week for the next round of trade talks. Officials have reported little progress on contentious issues but are hopeful that a deal will be struck.
The downgrade of growth forecasts for the 19-country eurozone was also on trader’s minds. The European Commission cut its forecast for the year to 1.3 percent from 1.9 percent on Thursday, because of slowing Chinese growth and other risks.
Germany, Europe’s largest economy, saw a significant cut to its growth outlook to 1.1 percent from 1.8 percent. This comes on the back of economic releases showing that industrial production and factory orders slowed in December.
THE DAY IN ASIA: Japan’s Nikkei 225 index closed 2 percent lower at 20,333.17. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng, reopening after a Lunar New Year break, gave up 0.2 percent to 27,946.32. The Kospi in South Korea declined 1.2 percent to 2,177.05 and Australia’s S&P ASX 200 was down 0.3 percent at 6,071.50. Stocks fell in the Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand but rose in Malaysia. Markets in China and Taiwan were closed.
ENERGY: U.S. crude oil lost 21 cents to $52.43 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It dropped $1.37 to settle at $52.64 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, retreated 11 cents to $61.52 per barrel. It fell $1.06 to close at $61.63 per barrel in London.
CURRENCIES: The dollar weakened to 109.79 yen from 109.82 yen late Thursday. The euro eased to $1.1330 from $1.1341. The British pound fell to $1.2931 from $1.2953.
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