World shares mixed on reports Trump might delay tariff hike

Christopher Riggs, Fred DeMarco, Philip Powers

FILE – In this Dec. 5, 2019, file photo specialist Christopher Riggs, left, works with traders Fred DeMarco, center and Philip Powers on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. The U.S. stock market opens at 9:30 a.m. EST on Tuesday, Dec. 10. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

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BEIJING (AP) — Global markets were mixed Wednesday following reports that President Donald Trump’s advisers were preparing for a possible delay in a weekend tariff hike on Chinese goods. Investors also had their eyes on central bank meetings in Europe and the U.S.

The German index in Frankfurt rose in early trading while Shanghai and Hong Kong closed higher. Markets in London and Tokyo declined while Wall Street futures were subdued.

Investors were counting on Trump to postpone Sunday’s duty increase on $160 billion of Chinese imports. But with no official action, Wall Street fell for a second day Tuesday.

The Wall Street Journal and other outlets reported Trump’s advisers were preparing to postpone punitive duties on smartphones, laptop computers, toys and other goods. But they said the president had yet to decide.

“Markets hope that the tariff can is kicked down the road while talks are underway,” said Vishnu Varathan of Mizuho Bank in a report. However, he warned, such hopes are “tentative if not fragile” with no commitment from Trump.

London’s FTSE 100 retreated 0.1% to 7,206, while France’s CAC 40 was flat to slightly up at 5,846. Frankfurt’s DAX added 0.3% to 13,113.

Premarket trading was uneven on Wall Street, with futures for the benchmark Standard & Poor’s 500 index up slightly at 3,137, while futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average inched down 0.1% to 27,896. Both declined 0.1% on Tuesday.

In Asia, the Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.2% to 2,924.42 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng advanced 0.8% to 26,645.43. Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 shed less than 0.1% to 23,391.86.

South Korea’s Kospi gained 0.4% to 2,105.62 and Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 added 0.7% to 6,752.60. India’s Sensex gained 0.1% to 40,292.15. Taiwan and Singapore advanced while New Zealand retreated.

Investors are looking ahead to the U.S. Federal Reserve’s decision Wednesday on interest rates and a similar decision Thursday by the European Central Bank.

Both are expected to affirm a commitment to low rates to support economic growth.

Elsewhere, markets are watching Britain’s parliamentary election Thursday. Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the election two years before it was required in hopes of a gaining a majority in the House of Commons to support his plan to leave the European Union by the end of January whether or not the two sides have negotiated details of their future relations.

The biggest risk for stocks has been the U.S.-Chinese tariff fight over Beijing’s technology ambitions and trade surplus. It has weighed on global commerce and threatens to depress economic growth.

On Tuesday, Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives and the White House announced a revised trade deal with Mexico and Canada. The deal would replace the North American Free Trade Agreement and would offer more provisions for U.S. workers.

ARAMCO DEBUTS: Saudi Arabia’s oil company Aramco gained 10% in its first moments on the stock market Wednesday in a dramatic debut that pushed its value to $1.88 trillion, surpassing Apple as the largest listed company in the world. Trading on the Saudi Tadawul stock exchange came after a mammoth $25.6 billion initial public offering that set the record as the biggest ever in history, overtaking the $25 billion raised by China’s Alibaba in 2014. Aramco, owned by the state, has sold a 1.5% stake in the company, pricing its shares before trading at 32 Saudi riyals, or $8.53. Shares closed at $9.39.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude lost 35 cents to $58.89 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained 22 cents on Tuesday to $59.24. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 46 cents to $63.88. It added 9 cents the previous session to $64.34.

CURRENCY: The dollar held at Tuesday’s 108.74 yen. The euro declined to $1.1079 from $1.1091.

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