Hong Kong stocks were sharply down after tens of thousands of people protested against plans for a controversial extradition law

New York (AFP) - Stock markets pulled back on Wednesday amid lingering trade war worries, with Asian markets also buffeted by unease over massive civil protests in Hong Kong.

Asian markets kicked off the losses after two days of healthy gains, with Hong Kong the worst performer – sinking two percent as a huge anti-government protest paralyzed key roads in the city before turning violent.

European indices followed suit with losses of around half a percent by the close, while Wall Street, having opened steady, slid gently downwards. The broad-based S&P 500 ended down 0.2 percent.

“The market is concerned about the US economic growth, global growth, and the tariffs issue,” said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist of Prudential Financial.

Krosby said investors are also somewhat less hopeful that the Federal Reserve will cut interest rates soon, after the United States withdrew a plan to impose tariffs on Mexico.

Profit-takers moved in also as traders keep a nervous eye on developments in the China-US trade saga ahead of a possible meeting between Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping at the Group of 20 summit in Japan later this month.

Oil prices slumped after data pointed to a jump in US stockpiles, exacerbating worries about oversupply and weakening demand growth.

“Oil prices have struggled to retain (recent) bullish gains as traders stay cautious over heightened geopolitical risks and persistent weakness in the global economic backdrop,” said Benjamin Lu, commodities analyst with Phillip Futures in Singapore.

Lu and other analysts said oil prices had been winning support from expectations that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and Russia would agree at a meeting this month to extend output cuts beyond June.

Elsewhere in commodities, cocoa futures rose sharply after key producers Ivory Coast and Ghana stopped sales in a push for higher prices, dealers said.

The September forward contract for the commodity, listed in New York, reached an 11-month high, hitting $2,545, a rise of around 1.6 percent on the day.

The two African nations, which together account for 60 percent of the world’s cocoa production, summoned buyers to Accra demanding a price of $2,600 per ton.

The meeting reached agreement in principle, a Ghana official announced, but implementation remains an issue.

- Key figures around 2050 GMT -

New York - Dow: DOWN 0.2 percent at 26,004.83 (close)

New York - S&P 500: DOWN 0.2 percent at 2,879.84 (close)

New York - Nasdaq: DOWN 0.4 percent at 7,793.72 (close)

London - FTSE 100: DOWN 0.4 percent at 7,367.62 (close)

Frankfurt - DAX 30: DOWN 0.3 percent at 12,115.68 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: DOWN 0.6 percent at 5,374.92 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.4 percent at 3,386.63 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.4 percent at 21,129.72 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: DOWN 1.7 percent at 27,308.46 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 0.6 percent at 2,909.38 (close)

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1288 from $1.1326 at 2100 GMT

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2687 from $1.2725

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 108.51 yen from 108.52 yen

Oil - Brent North Sea: DOWN $1.16 at $61.13 per barrel

Oil - West Texas Intermediate: DOWN $1.21 at $52.06 per barrel