Saturday, 19 October, 2019

Asia stocks unnerved by yuan slide, heightened trade war fears

Russell Knight | 21 July, 2018, 20:11

China accused American officials of making false accusations Thursday as it fired back against a claim President Xi Jinping is blocking talks with the US over the trade war between both nations.

"In general, there is a slight uneasiness to the market today in the midst of what has been a constructive rally now for most of the year", said Rick Meckler, partner at Cherry Lane Investments in New Vernon, New Jersey.

As the US-China trade war continues to undermine global economic confidence, Donald Trump sparked new fears among investors last night by threatening a currency war with Beijing.

"Trump wants to win over more voters by starting a trade war", the cartoon says.

The Chinese yuan weakened by almost 1% against the dollar yesterday and continued its slide today, hitting its lowest level in over a year.

The currency movements also reverberated in foreign stock markets, pressuring bourses in Tokyo, Europe and London.

China's shock devaluation of the yuan in 2015 provides a good template for what the contagion might look like, according to Robin Brooks, the chief economist at the Institute of International Finance and the former head currency strategist at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. "But then Asian central banks will step back, and in my mind, the big underperformer on a six-month horizon could be EM Asia".

The dollar fell against most major currencies on Friday, adding to Thursday's declines. He says ECB President Mario Draghi may elect to step into the fray at the central bank's July 26 policy meeting, given American attempts to talk the dollar down in January were extremely unpopular in Frankfurt. The euro ended the day up 0.7 per cent at US$1.1724, while the yen was nearly 1 per cent stronger.

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"By running tight monetary policy and loose fiscal policy, Trump has put nearly ideal conditions in place for a rally in the dollar", said Karl Schamotta, a strategist at Cambridge Global Payments in Toronto.

"Most of the concerns people have are generalized political concerns", Meckler said.

The Treasury's next semi-annual foreign-exchange policy report - the government's formal channel to impose the manipulator designation - is expected in October. The administration has also released a list of 10-per-cent tariffs on an additional US$200 billion of Chinese goods, which could take effect as early as next month.

"They would make a big effort to say what they are doing is not motivated by that", he added.

In an interview with CNBC television broadcast Friday, Trump threatened to slap all Chinese imported goods with tariffs, risking an escalation in global trade war tactics. "We won't be able to clearly tell".

"Our currency is going up", Trump said.

The yuan, which has fallen about 10 percent since mid-April, is expected to extend its steady decline, providing Beijing with a buffer against punitive United States trade tariffs.

Markets around the world lost ground on the comments.

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