The forecast path of Hurricane Florence

London (AFP) - Stock markets mostly fell on Wednesday with investors fearing an escalation in the US-China trade row after Beijing said it planned to impose anti-dumping sanctions worth billions of dollars on Washington.

London followed Asia lower, with the capital’s benchmark FTSE 100 index and pound both under pressure as the UK and EU appeared no closer to agreeing a Brexit divorce deal.

Eurozone stock indices rose however on the eve of the European Central Bank’s regular policy meeting.

“Across the asset classes, global equities are mostly seeing red as investors’ assess the outlook for global growth amidst heightened trade tensions,” noted Oanda analyst Dean Popplewell.

“Oil prices are well supported as dealers try to get a handle on Hurricane Florence potential impact” on crude supplies, he added.

The new turn in the US-China spat meanwhile adds to a sense of pessimism across trading floors in recent weeks as the world’s top two economic powers stand on the cusp of an all-out trade war that observers fear could batter the global economy.

It comes as dealers struggle to deal with a brewing emerging-market financial crisis and overshadows hopeful noises from Canada that a revised NAFTA trade deal between themselves and the US is “imminently possible”.

China on Tuesday said it would ask the World Trade Organization next week for permission to impose more than $7 billion in sanctions annually on the United States over anti-dumping practices. The WTO will discuss the issue on September 21.

The case dates back to December 2013, when China took issue with the way Washington assesses whether exports have been “dumped” at unfairly low prices onto the US market.

Beijing’s call comes after US President Donald Trump threatened to impose tariffs on all goods coming from China, which he says is using unfair trade practices that are harming American jobs.

He has railed also against his country’s massive trade deficit with China, which hit a record high last month.

On Wednesday China’s Vice Premier Hu Chunhua warned that protectionism poses a “serious hazard” to growth and cautioned “individual countries” against isolationism, in a veiled reference to the ongoing row.

In Europe, EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker undermined a key part of Britain’s plan to quit the bloc, warning that London cannot expect to remain in parts of the single market.

- Key figures around 1015 GMT -

London - FTSE 100: DOWN 0.2 percent at 7,262.06 points

Frankfurt - DAX 30: UP 0.2 percent at 11,988.51

Paris - CAC 40: UP 0.5 percent at 5,309.32

EURO STOXX 50: FLAT at 3,312.18

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.3 percent at 22,604.61 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: DOWN 0.3 percent at 26,345.04 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 0.3 percent at 2,656.11 (close)

New York - Dow Jones: UP 0.4 percent at 25,971.06 (close)

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1591 from $1.1600 at 2040 GMT

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3023 from $1.3026

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 111.47 yen from 111.57 yen

Oil - Brent Crude: UP two cents at $79.08 per barrel

Oil - West Texas Intermediate: UP 59 cents at $69.84 per barrel