Stocks mixed as investors keep eyes on US-China tensions


CHINA-US TRADE: China announced a tariff cut for imported soybeans and some other grains from Asian countries in a possible measure to replace USA supplies in the event Beijing's trade dispute with Washington escalates.

"Such legislation will provide additional tools to combat the predatory investment practices that threaten our critical technology leadership, national security, and future economic prosperity", Trump said in a statement. Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.5 percent to 28,497.32 while the Shanghai Composite in mainland China extended its losses by 0.9 percent to 2,786.90. Dow futures were down 0.1 percent and S&P 500 futures dipped 0.2 percent.

"Nothing today came out other than commentary from the administration", said Michael Antonelli, managing director, institutional sales trading at Robert W. Baird in Milwaukee.

European shares, meanwhile, fell 0.5 percent to the lowest since April 12.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .miapj0000pus was off 0.05 percent after touching a two-year trough on Tuesday.

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Declines in that index were led by China's Shenzen-listed blue chips.CSI300, which sank 2 percent to a whisker above 13-month lows.

In each of the past six days, the yuan has slid, taking it to the lowest levels since December 2017.

A row over migration within Germany's governing coalition will also limit gains for the single currency.

The greenback itself firmed modestly against a basket of currencies, recovering from 10-day lows, but it fell 0.3 percent against Japan's yen which is considered a safe-haven asset.

The euro rebounded on Wednesday as concerns about an escalating trade conflict held back the dollar, while traders said markets needed clarity on a developing political crisis in Germany and an European Union summit before pushing the euro higher.

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Overnight, U.S stocks closed firmly in the red on increasing trade worries.

The move takes gold's decline this month to more than 3 percent - the biggest monthly drop since September - driven by a dollar rally, a large decline in gold held by exchange-traded funds and a sharp fall in speculative bets on higher prices. Australia's S&P-ASX 200 edged up 0.1 percent to 6,201.00. The Nasdaq composite dipped 1.5 percent to 7,445.08.

ZTE Corp, China's second-largest telecommunications equipment maker, ceased major operations after the United States imposed a ban on USA suppliers in April.

Markets remain anxious about Trump's hard-line approach to trade relations, with early signs his stance may not only be backfiring on him but also hurting the global economy.

MSCI's broadest gauge of the world's stock markets fell to its lowest level in nearly three months, on course to post its fourth losing month in the last five.

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USA oil prices slipped slightly after climbing more than 3 percent on Wednesday to reach three-and-a-half year highs, helped by supply disruptions in Libya and Canada as well as government data showing a bigger-than-expected drop in US crude stockpiles. Brent crude futures settled up $1.31, or 1.72 percent, at $77.62 a barrel.