Trade war fears and tech jitters stalk global stock markets

Trade war fears and tech jitters stalk global stock markets
The Associated Press

LONDON (AP) — Global stock markets fell for a second day Tuesday as investors continued to fret over a looming trade war between the U.S. and China and mounting public scrutiny of technology companies.

Stocks have been trending lower for weeks largely because of a series of tariffs announced by U.S. President Donald Trump and the Facebook data privacy scandal, which has raised the prospect of tighter regulation for social media and other tech stocks.

In the last week, Trump has also tweeted repeatedly about his new favorite foe, Amazon, whose owner also owns The Washington Post, which has been critical of the Trump administration.

Trump has approved possible higher U.S. duties on $50 billion of Chinese goods in response to complaints that Beijing steals or pressures foreign companies to hand over technology. Those tariffs come on top of previous proposals to raise tariffs on imported steel and aluminum.

In response, China announced it is raising tariffs on $3 billion of U.S. goods including pork, apples and steel pipe, increasing the risk of a broader conflict that might depress global trade.

“The mood remains decidedly bearish, and there is certainly no shortage of reasons to be fearful,” said Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at IG. “It’s times like this when investors face a choice — whether to sit and await developments or plunge back in.”

That was evident in the performance of stocks on Tuesday.

Returning from the long Easter holiday weekend, Europe’s stock markets tracked others lower, though the scale of the losses were diminished by expectations of a rebound on Wall Street later.

In Europe, Germany’s DAX fell 0.8 percent to 11,999 while London’s FTSE 100 declined 0.2 percent to 7,037. France’s CAC 40 was 0.5 percent lower at 5,140.

Wall Street was poised for some solid gains at the open Tuesday with Dow futures and the broader S&P 500 futures up 0.5 percent. On Monday, the S&P posted its worst start to a quarter since October 2011 and saw the index fall below its 200-day moving average for the first time in almost 2 years.

U.S. technology companies are in the spotlight, notably Amazon, which posted hefty losses of around 5 percent Monday after Trump again voiced his concerns about the company on Twitter.

The sector was already in the gaze of investors after Facebook’s data scandal last month that has raised the prospect of heightened regulation. Netflix, Microsoft and Google parent Alphabet have all seen their share prices decline.

“Pressure on the sector doesn’t appear to be going away in the near-term which will continue to act as a drag on indices,” said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at OANDA.

Earlier in Asia, the Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.8 percent to 3,163.63 and Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 shed 0.4 percent to 21,292.29. Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 declined 0.1 percent to 5,751.90. Elsewhere, Seoul’s Kospi ended down 27 points at 2,442.43. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng bucked the trend, ending up 0.2 percent at 30,137.49.

Elsewhere, the euro was flat at $1.23 while the dollar rose 0.3 percent to 106.23 yen. In the oil markets, a barrel of U.S. crude gained 22 cents to $63.23 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange while Bren crude, used to price international oils, rose 29 cents to $67.93 in London.

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