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Western markets fall as US factory figures dampen positive Chinese data

By Hugh Wilson

Good news from Chinese factories cancelled by Trump steel tariff tweet and US manufacturing woe

Markets were buoyed by news from the Chinese manufacturing sector early on Monday, December 2, before President Trump popped the party balloon with a pointed tweet.

Disappointing US manufacturing Purchase Managers’ Index (PMI) data further darkened moods on the trading floor.

After downbeat messages on a US-China trade deal over the weekend, investors were initially reassured by Purchase Managers’ Index (PMI) data. This showed Chinese factory activity growing faster than expected in November.

The Shanghai SSEC closed 3.83 points up on the day, a modest 0.13 per cent rise. Other major Asian indices – including the Japanese Nikkei and Hong Kong Hang Seng – also enjoyed positive days.

Oil futures bounced on the news that Chinese factories were using more power and hints that OPEC might agree to deeper output cuts this week. NYMEX Crude Oil and Brent Crude prices were up 2.16 per cent and 1.87 per cent respectively on Monday afternoon.

Gold prices fell as traders turned away from the safe haven stock.

But European and US shares were hit by the double whammy of Trump’s tweet and a US factory slump.

Trump rose early to tweet his intention to slap steel tariffs on imports from Brazil and Argentina. He accused them of overseeing currency devaluations to the detriment of US farmers and exporters.

The closely-watched Institute for Supply Management (ISM) survey then delivered a blow from the factory floor. The index fell to 48.1 from 48.3 and heading back towards the 10-year low seen in September.

Markets reacted predictably, with the London FTSE 100 down 0.82 per cent at close and Germany’s DAX tumbling by 2.05 per cent. All the major US indices were falling in morning trading, with the Nasdaq leading the way, down nearly 100 points or 1.15 per cent.

Bitcoin started December as it ended November, trading down. As of Monday afternoon it was priced at around $7,320, down 1.25 per cent.

FURTHER READING: Upbeat Chinese factory data boosts markets

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