Asian stocks fall as investors await measures in China-US trade war

No date set for resumption of bilateral talks

US president Donald Trump. Photograph: Cathal McNaughton/File Photo/Reuters

US president Donald Trump. Photograph: Cathal McNaughton/File Photo/Reuters


Stocks in Asia fell along with US and European equity futures, the yuan and Treasury yields as investors awaited details on the counter-measures China warned it would impose following last week’s escalation in the trade war between the world’s top two economies.

With no date scheduled for a resumption in bilateral talks, shares dropped in Shanghai and Seoul, while declines were more limited in Tokyo. Hong Kong is closed Monday for a holiday. S&P 500 Index futures fell as much as 1.2 per cent. European equity futures slipped. Ten-year US yields were hovering near the lowest level since early April, just above those on three-month bills. Commodities slipped, led by copper, while the yen edged higher.

“Central banks this year have switched into this dovish pivot – that’s allowed the market to continue higher whatever the weather” up until recently, said Eleanor Creagh, Sydney-based Australia market strategist at Saxo Capital Markets, on Bloomberg Television. “With the breakdown of these trade negotiations people will have to sit back and think how far this dovish central bank stance can really continue to carry us.”

Stocks in China were hit especially hard last week as the U.S. increased levies on about $200 billion worth of Chinese goods. State funds reportedly intervened to prop up shares on Monday and again Friday, when the Shanghai Composite closed up more than 3 per cent.

Mr Trump weighed in further on the state of trade negotiations with China, saying that the US was “right where we want to be” and that it would be wise for China to “act now” to complete a trade deal. Larry Kudlow, Trump’s top economic adviser, told Fox News that China invited trade representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin back to Beijing, though no date has been set. He also said Mr Trump would meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping during the G20 meeting in late June.

China state media blamed the US for a lack of progress in trade talks while emphasizing China’s economic resilience. People’s Daily, the flagship newspaper of China’s Communist Party, said in a front-page commentary that the US should take full responsibility for the setbacks because it went back on its word and imposed more levies on Chinese products.

Elsewhere, Bitcoin climbed above $7,000 as the recent gains in cryptocurrencies extended over the weekend. Base metals retreated as traders reassessed the demand outlook give the threats to global economic growth. Other commodities were also caught in the crossfire of the trade impasse, with China’s cotton futures plunging by the daily limit. – Bloomberg