Thursday, 29 October 2020
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Asian Markets In Retreat On Trade Uncertainty

HONG KONG: Asian markets sank again as investors grow increasingly pessimistic about the outlook for China-US trade talks, while a closely watched recession indicator hit a level not seen since just before the financial crisis.

The pound remained under pressure after Prime Minister Boris Johnson forced an extended suspension of parliament, heightening the prospect of a no-deal Brexit and leading to speculation of a snap no-confidence vote.

Wall Street provided a healthy lead but investors in Asia remain on edge after the weekend’s face-off between China and the US that saw each side impose tariffs on hundreds of billions of goods and Donald Trump label Xi Jinping at one point an “enemy”.

While the US president later said top-level officials from Beijing and Washington had spoken by phone and talks would resume soon, China was reluctant to confirm this, while analysts warn the strategy is undermining market confidence.

“At each round of escalation in the US-China trade war, whether that is new retaliatory tariffs or new sanctions proposals (like cutting Chinese firms off from the US financial system), investors are growing more and more uncertain,” said Hannah Anderson, global market strategist at JP Morgan Asset Management.

“There does not appear to be an off ramp to this path of continued escalation.” The row comes against a backdrop of slowing global growth and uncertainty about the Federal Reserve’s plans for cutting interest rates to support the US economy.

“The catalyst that can break this market out is clearly a move, forward-looking, and a clear agreement with China to move forward and stop this escalation with the trade war,” Brett Ewing, First Franklin Financial Services chief market strategist, told Bloomberg tv.

“Also, I think the market is looking for a Fed that can get ahead of these rate cuts instead of just meeting market expectations.”

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