Investors are keeping an close eye on the progress of China-US trade talks

London (AFP) - Stock markets mostly retreated Friday on profit-taking at the end of a positive week for equities thanks to US-China trade talk hopes.

Several announcements from the trade war front have fanned hopes that the world’s economic superpowers – who are currently finalising a mini trade pact as part of a wider deal – can resolve a long-running tariffs war that has hobbled the global growth outlook.

On Friday, the White House trade advisor said that President Donald Trump could postpone tariffs on Chinese goods scheduled to take effect in December.

“It’s been a solid week of gains for global equity markets against a backdrop of a vast improvement in investor sentiment about the prospects for a resolution and thaw in US, China trade relations,” said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK.

He cautioned, however, “as we have been here before, only to find that both sides have stepped back due to concerns that they may be perceived as having given too much away”.

“The elevation of discussion from a trade truce to a possible tariff rollback is important and suggests both China and the US have come under pressure to seal a deal,” National Australia Bank’s Tapas Strickland said in a note to clients Friday.

White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham told the Fox News Channel: “I cannot get ahead of the talks with China, but we are very, very optimistic that we will reach a deal soon.”

- ‘Really just noise’ -

However, a report said there was some opposition within the administration to such a move.

Trump himself told reporters Friday that he would not remove all the existing tariffs imposed on Chinese goods, and that a deal would be signed in the United States.

Neil Wilson, chief market analyst at Markets.com, said: “If a first phase trade deal is done, there is agreement to roll back some existing tariffs, but only if the deal is agreed. Usual story – mixed reports really all just noise.”

On Wall Street, the Dow index was in mildly weaker territory in the late New York morning, with analysts saying trade optimism and a better-then-feared earnings season stopped many investors from agressively taking profits.

European stocks were around half a percent down on the day by the close.

Earlier in Asia, Hong Kong closed lower following a six-day advance, while dealers in the city were bracing for a fresh weekend of protests after the death of a student who sustained head injuries when he fell during clashes with police.

Shanghai also weakened after data showed Chinese exports and imports fell again last month, though not by as much as expected.

- Key figures around 1640 GMT -

London - FTSE 100: DOWN 0.6 percent at 7,359.38 points (close)

Frankfurt - DAX 30: DOWN 0.5 percent at 13,228.56 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: FLAT at 5,889.70 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.2 percent at 3,699.65

New York - Dow: DOWN 0.2 percent at 27,613.18

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 0.3 percent at 23,391.87 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: DOWN 0.7 percent at 27,651.14 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 0.5 percent at 2,964.18 (close)

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1020 from $1.1050 at 2100 GMT

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 109.11 yen from 109.28 yen

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2789 from $1.2817

Euro/pound: DOWN at 86.17 pence from 86.22

Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 1.0 percent at $61.69 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 1.2 percent at $56.49

burs-jh/wai