Investors are looking ahead to a possible meeting between Donald Trump and Xi Jinping at the G20 next month
London (AFP) - Stock markets went their separate ways Wednesday on US-China trade deal uncertainty, while oil prices retreated.
After Asian equity markets jumped in an echo of strong worldwide gains on Tuesday, European indices were lower approaching the half-way mark.
The dollar was steady against main rivals, while the euro won some support from official data showing a rebound in first quarter German growth.
“The fears over the possibility of a substantial reversal of trade war progress has added a substantial amount of volatility to markets, yet as the past 24-hours has shown, markets still exhibit hope that we could see some form of resolution emerge from this current standoff,” noted Joshua Mahony, senior market analyst at IG trading group.
After more than doubling tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods last week – sparking retaliation from Beijing – US President Donald Trump has threatened to hit a further $300 billion with more levies if he does not get his way in high-stakes talks.
However, in a series of tweets Tuesday, Trump gave markets some hope that a deal between the economic titans will eventually be struck.
The remarks, while again accusing China of backsliding in the trade talks, provided some optimism – as did weak Chinese economic data that fuelled hopes for growth-boosting measures.
Shanghai’s main stocks index ended 1.9 percent higher and Hong Kong put on 0.5 percent Wednesday.
Meanwhile, both the US and China have said they will resume talks in Beijing but with no date yet set, dealers are looking ahead to a possible powwow at the G20 in Japan at the end of June.
Elsewhere on Wednesday, oil prices dropped following a surprise rise in US crude stockpiles – but remained propped up by tensions in the Middle East.
Saudi Arabia, the world’s top crude exporter, on Wednesday said that attacks on two of its tankers and a major pipeline targeted the security of global oil supplies.
Drone attacks claimed by Iran-aligned Yemeni rebels shut down one of the kingdom’s main oil pipelines on Tuesday, further ratcheting up Gulf tensions after the mysterious weekend sabotage of four ships, two of them Saudi tankers.
Also Wednesday, the International Energy Agency confirmed that the world’s oil supply fell last month as US sanctions on Iran tightened and OPEC+ members produced less crude in line with their pact.
In its latest monthly report on the global oil market, the Paris-based IEA said that while geopolitics and industry disruptions were clouding the outlook it believes that the market balance is set to flip from surplus into deficit, a development that would favour efforts by oil producing nations to keep prices high.
- Key figures around 1100 GMT -
London - FTSE 100: DOWN 0.1 percent at 7,235.48 points
Frankfurt - DAX 30: DOWN 0.5 percent at 11,929.88
Paris - CAC 40: DOWN 0.4 percent at 5,318.15
EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.5 percent at 3,346.81
Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 0.6 percent at 21,188.56 (close)
Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 0.5 percent at 28,268.71 (close)
Shanghai - Composite: UP 1.9 percent at 2,938.68 (close)
New York - Dow: UP 0.8 percent at 25,532.05 (close)
Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1197 from $1.1208 at 2040 GMT
Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2908 from $1.2907
Dollar/yen: DOWN at 109.36 yen from 109.62 yen
Oil - Brent Crude: DOWN 43 cents at $70.81 per barrel
Oil - West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 83 cents at $60.95 per barrel