Trade worries as Trump tweets weigh down markets again

A man walks by an electronic stock board of a securities firm in Tokyo, Tuesday, July 30, 2019. Shares were mostly higher in Asia on Tuesday as envoys from the U.S. and China prepared to resume trade talks, this time in Shanghai. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)
A woman walks by an electronic stock board of a securities firm in Tokyo, Tuesday, July 30, 2019. Shares were mostly higher in Asia on Tuesday as envoys from the U.S. and China prepared to resume trade talks, this time in Shanghai. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)
A man looks at an electronic stock board of a securities firm in Tokyo, Tuesday, July 30, 2019. Shares were mostly higher in Asia on Tuesday as envoys from the U.S. and China prepared to resume trade talks, this time in Shanghai. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

LONDON — European stock markets were down sharply Tuesday 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 Tuesday 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 Tuesday 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 Wednesday'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.

Earlier in Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 index climbed 0.4% to 21,709.31 after the Bank of Japan opted to keep its policy intact and leave its benchmark interest rate at minus 0.1%. But it suggested it might find ways to help boost growth if necessary.

The Shanghai Composite index added 0.4% to 2,952.34, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng clawed back losses that followed clashes between protesters and police over the weekend, gaining 0.1% to 28,146.50. In South Korea, the Kospi gained 0.5% to 2,038.68.

ENERGY: Benchmark crude oil rose 45 cents to $57.32 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange while Brent crude oil, the international standard, gained 54 cents to $64.16 a barrel.

CURRENCIES: The euro was up 0.1% at $1.1152 while the dollar fell 0.3% to 108.47 yen.

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