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Trade war concerns and Hong Kong unrest weigh heavy as markets slide

By Hugh Wilson

Investors already jittery ahead of EU auto parts announcement

European markets deflated on Wednesday after President Trump dampened hopes of progress on US-China trade talks and failed to signal a delay to tariffs on European cars and auto parts.

Markets had finished on a high on Tuesday ahead of Trump’s speech to the Economic Club of New York, but prices quickly dropped as trader’s reacted with disappointment to remarks that were high on politics and low on substance.

With Trump unexpectedly using the speech to threaten an escalation in the 16-month US-China trade war, London’s FTSE 100 finished on 7,351, 0.19 per cent down on the day. Most of the main European indices followed that lead, with the pan-European Euro Stoxx 50 dropping 0.34 per cent by the end of trading.

Trump is widely expected to delay the imposition of 25 per cent tariffs on European cars and car parts for another six months on Wednesday, but the President’s reputation for volatility left traders jittery in advance of the announcement. In late afternoon trading the German DAX index was down over 50 points, a 0.4 per cent fall.

US-China trade relations and another night of protest in Hong Kong also weighed heavy on Asian investors, with the Hong Kong Hang Seng down 1.82 per cent, the Japanese Nikkei down 0.85 per cent and the Chinese SSEC down 0.33 per cent.

In the US, both the S&D 500 and the Nasdaq fell in early trading.

Energy commodities also slid early on after Trump’s speech scuppered hopes of an imminent trade war breakthrough, but both Brent Crude and US-based Crude Oil WTI rallied as the day wore on.

In the currency markets, the pound was slightly down against the dollar, while the Euro was also marginally down against the greenback. Bitcoin was hovering around the 8,730 mark in afternoon trading, down around 0.8 per cent against the dollar.

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