World stocks came under pressure on Thursday as new tariffs took effect in the U.S./China trade war.
Oil prices rebound. Brent sweet crude, the international benchmark, traded at 74.79 dollars while U.S. crude rose to $67.97
Markets speculated about U.S. President Donald Trump’s position following legal rulings against two former advisers.
The MSCI world equity index, which tracks shares in 47 countries, was 0.1 per cent lower by 1116 GMT.
Meanwhile, a rise across tech and energy stocks helped Europe’s STOXX 600 eke out a 0.1 per cent gain.
Stocks were subdued as the U.S. and China, despite ongoing talks, implemented 25 per cent tariffs on $16 billion worth of each other’s goods.
The world’s two biggest economic powers have now slapped tit-for-tat tariffs on a combined 100 billion dollars of products since early July.
More are in the pipeline, adding to risks to global economic growth.
Caroline Simmons, deputy head of the UK chief investment office at UBS Wealth Management, cited such concerns as a reason for paring back an overweight on global equities to a very small position.
“We’ve got trade conflicts, and sanctions, in Turkey and Russia, so there are a few things going on that we were a little nervous about,” Simmons said.
The auto sector, particularly sensitive to tariff developments, was the worst performing in Europe, down 0.9 per cent.
Earlier, MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 0.2 per cent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index stumbled 0.5 per cent while Chinese blue-chips gained 0.4 per cent.
While investors are looking ahead to see how increasing trade barriers between China and the United States might affect corporate earnings, political turmoil also weighed.
Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations on Tuesday.
Former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, was found guilty on charges of tax and bank fraud.
Investors are considering whether the twin setback will hurt the president and his Republican Party’s prospects in mid-term elections.
That weighed on Wall Street overnight and the market ended mixed despite the S&P500 clocking its longest bull run in history.
Cohen’s plea deal does not mean the president has been implicated in anything, press secretary Sarah Sanders said at a White House briefing.
“Meanhile, the (legal issues) shouldn’t substantially alter the stock market landscape.
Money managers and analysts say the developments raise the likelihood of further turbulence ahead for Mr. Trump heading into the mid-term elections,” said James McGlew.
McGlew is Perth-based analyst at stockbroking firm Argonaut.
Political tensions were not limited to the United States.
Australian shares slipped 0.3 per cent after several senior ministers tendered their resignations on Thursday.
They demanded a second vote on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership.
The Australian dollar fell 0.8 percent for its second straight day of declines.
The dollar index, which measures it against a basket of major currencies, gave up some earlier gains .
The euro was off 0.1 percent at 1.1580 dollars, not far from Wednesday’s two-week high of 1.1623 dollars.
The Japanese yen weakened 0.2 per lcent to 110.77 per dollar.
U.S. gold futures for December delivery fell 0.5 per cent while spot gold dipped 0.4 per cent to 1,190.49 dollars an ounce. Copper slid 0.9 per cent.