European stock markets were down sharply yesterday after U.S. President Donald Trump published a series of tweets that cast doubt on any hopes of an imminent easing in trade tensions between the U.S. and China. Apple earnings later could help change the sentiment.
As a U.S. delegation was in Shanghai meeting with their Chinese counterparts, Trump accused Beijing of not delivering on promises to buy more U.S. agricultural products. He also pondered whether China was holding out from an agreement until after the result of next year's U.S. presidential election.
Trump said: "The problem with them waiting, however, is that if & when I win, the deal that they get will be much tougher than what we are negotiating now ... or no deal at all."
The trade conflict between the U.S. and China has been the biggest negative for the markets over the past couple of years, with investors worried that a full-blown trade war could derail the global recovery and augur in a new world of protectionism. Fawad Razaqzada, a technical analyst at Forex.com, said Trump's tweets "don't bode well for the U.S.-China trade talks." Those concerns clearly weighed on European markets yesterday and set to do so at Wall Street's open.
In Europe, Germany's DAX was down 2.1% at 12,152 while the CAC-40 in France fell 1.5% to 5,519. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was doing better, down only 0.2% at 7,672, as it benefited from the continuing fall in the value of the pound, which makes British exports cheaper. The pound fell earlier yesterday to $1.2120, its lowest level since March 2017 as traders fretted about the possibility Britain may crash out of the European Union on Oct. 31 with no divorce deal that would smooth its exit. New British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has insisted that his government will finally deliver Brexit on that date come what may, raising the specter of a no-deal exit that could have serious negative implications for the U.K. economy.
U.S. stocks were poised for fall at the bell with Dow futures and the broader S&P 500 futures down 0.4%. There will be particular interest later on the latest quarterly earnings from Apple after the markets close.
As well as focusing on the trade discussions taking place in Shanghai and Brexit, traders around the world are keenly awaiting today's interest rate decision from the U.S. Federal Reserve. Policymakers are expected to enact the first interest rate cut in over a decade. Perhaps of more interest will be the hints that may emerge in the accompanying statement.
On Friday, traders will have the U.S. government's monthly jobs report for July to digest. That could well influence trading through the rest of August especially if it impacts on Fed rate cut predictions.
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