Stock markets tread water as all quiet on trade war front

Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, October 31, 2019. — Reuters pic
Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, October 31, 2019. — Reuters pic

LONDON, Nov 29 — Stock traders found little to get the pulse racing today as the trade war front was eerily quiet and Thanksgiving sapped global trading volumes.

“It’s been quite the forgettable week and I don’t think today is going to be any more memorable,” said Craig Erlam, Senior Market Analyst at Oanda Europe.

With an almost empty economics schedule, markets were left with only the US-China trade conflict to trade on, as so often in recent weeks and months, he said.

“Let’s face it, a deal is hardly looking likely at this point,” he said, predicting that markets were therefore headed for a “dull” December.

European stocks markets were trading mildly higher, except for London which slipped in response to a stronger pound which was boosted by expectations that Britain’s ruling Conservatives will win next month’s general election.

This would likely allow Prime Minister Boris Johnson to push through his Brexit agreement and avoid a no-deal divorce from the European Union.

Wall Street fell lower as traders returned after a Thanksgiving holiday.

Daimler skids

US President Donald Trump’s decision to sign a bill in support of pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong and back their rights has sparked warnings of retaliation from Beijing and fuelled fears for negotiations on a mini trade deal that are in their final straight.

However, China has not detailed what its response to the Hong Kong law will be and observers say it is unlikely to do anything to derail a tariffs agreement owing to its weakening economy.

“China’s threats to retaliate over the US Hong Kong law will probably remain just that; threats,” said Jeffrey Halley, also at Oanda.

“China has its own issues, especially around corporate debt and regional bank credit quality. It can ill-afford to waste any progress so far. Pragmatism should overcome anger.”

On the corporate front, shares in Daimler dropped on the Frankfurt bourse as the German luxury automaker said it would slash at least 10,000 jobs worldwide in a major cost-cutting drive to help finance the switch to electric cars.

Shares in UK online supermarket Ocado surged after the company announced a deal to provide artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities to Japanese retail giant Aeon.

What little economic figures there were to trade on, data showed inflation in the eurozone rose to 1.0 per cent, higher than analysts’ projections but still lagging under the weight of trade tensions.

Key figures around 1440 GMT

London – FTSE 100: DOWN 0.5 per cent at 7,382.31 points

Frankfurt – DAX 30: UP 0.2 per cent at 13,268.51

Paris – CAC 40: UP 0.1 per cent at 5,916.43

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.2 per cent at 3,711.76

New York – Dow Jones: DOWN 0.3 per cent at 28,097.52

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.5 per cent at 23,293.91 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: DOWN 2.0 per cent at 26,346.49 (close)

Shanghai – Composite: DOWN 0.6 per cent at 2,871.98 (close)

Euro/dollar: DOWN at US$1.0995 from US$1.1009

Pound/dollar: DOWN at US$1.2889 from US$1.2912

Euro/pound: UP at 85.29 pence from 85.27

Dollar/yen: UP at 109.60 yen from 109.51

Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 1.7 per cent at US$62.19 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 1.7 per cent at US$57.06

— AFP

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