Wednesday, 30 Sep 2020

Global Markets Follow Wall Street’s Sell-Off After Trump Tweets

HONG KONG — President Trump fires off a tweet from the White House. Markets shudder.

Stocks around the world on Wednesday continued their tumble after Mr. Trump posted a series of tweets warning that a fragile cease-fire in the trade war with China could easily be derailed. They followed a sharp drop on Wall Street on Tuesday, where stocks fell more than 3 percent.

Still, investors in Asia appeared to be less fearful than those in the United States, after vague official comments from the Chinese government that nevertheless expressed confidence in the talks. Hong Kong led the selling, and by midday the main exchange was down 1.6 percent. China’s biggest companies listed in Hong Kong were among the biggest losers.

Futures markets tracking the performance of stocks in Europe showed the markets there were poised for a sell-off. The United States looked ready to extend losses when markets there open, though they were set to be closed on Wednesday in honor of the death of former President George Bush.

Conflicting trade news has sent investors on a wild ride this week. Only two days ago they rose on optimism after Mr. Trump and President Xi Jinping struck a truce over dinner in Buenos Aires on the sidelines of the G20 meeting.

Since then the White House has sent conflicting signals as to what, exactly, the two sides agreed to do. Mr. Trump also chose a trade hard-liner to lead the fresh talks. China’s Ministry of Commerce has said negotiations would follow a timeline. Both sides have 90 days to work out a resolution.

The biggest concern plaguing investors is the worry that the ongoing trade war could erode global growth just as the world’s biggest economies are starting to slow down. In China, there are growing worries that the trade war will weigh on an economy that is already under stress from a plunging stock market, a weakening currency and dampened consumer appetite.

“While investing we try to avoid the noise, but these trade war issues in China and Japan have the potential of such large impact on certain industries it’s increasingly difficult to ignore,” said Seth Fischer, the chief investment officer at Oasis Management, a hedge fund based in Hong Kong. Mr. Fischer was referring to potential tariffs on the automobile industry that could affect the entire supply chain across Asia.

In Taipei, Taiwan, investors sent the market down 1.6 percent. In Seoul, South Korea, and Tokyo, the markets were down about 0.6 percent.

China’s currency, the renminbi, weakened slightly against the United States dollar by 0.3 percent. It trades within a band set by the People’s Bank of China. Earlier this week it reached a two-month peak.

Referring to himself in one tweet as “a Tariff Man,” Mr. Trump on Tuesday wrote in another: “We are either going to have a REAL DEAL with China, or no deal at all — at which point we will be charging major Tariffs against Chinese product being shipped into the United States.”

In the United States, investors sent Treasury yields sharply down — signaling broader concerns about growth. The difference between short and long term interest rates reached the lowest point since before the financial crisis, a signal that investors have warned comes before a recession.

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