U.S. Stocks Slip as Trade War Weighs on Chinese Exports

Date : 12/09/2019 @ 8:12PM
Source : Dow Jones News
Stock : ArQule Inc (ARQL)
Quote : 20.0  0.0 (0.00%) @ 1:00AM

U.S. Stocks Slip as Trade War Weighs on Chinese Exports

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By Paul J. Davies and Paul Vigna 

U.S. stocks slipped Monday after fresh economic data showed a sharp decline in Chinese exports to the U.S., highlighting the impact of the trade war between the world's two largest economies.

The S&P 500 fell 0.2%, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.3% and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 0.2%.

The muted moves opened what some analysts said could prove to be a pivotal week for markets. Friday's jobs report eased a lot of concerns about the strength of the U.S. economy. But this week's calendar includes updates on trade, politics and central-bank policy around the world that could shift the direction of asset prices.

"What happens this week decides what goes on from here," said Bethel Loh, a market strategist at ThinkMarkets.

Trade policy remained a major concern for investors after data Sunday showed China's exports unexpectedly dropped 1.1% in November from a year earlier, while shipments to the U.S. fell 23%, according to China's General Administration of Customs. Uncertainty about the trade talks between the two nations has weighed on global trade and the economic outlook for much of this year and made investors jittery.

With a new round of tariffs poised to go into effect Sunday on imports from China, a commerce-ministry official said Monday that China hopes trade negotiations with the U.S. will result in a "satisfactory" outcome as soon as possible. Some analysts expect Mr. Trump to delay imposing new tariffs while negotiators are pursuing a deal. His economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, said Friday that there were "no arbitrary deadlines" to complete a limited trade deal.

"Avoiding a total breakdown remains the most important outcome for investors," said Geoffrey Yu, head of the U.K. investment office at UBS Wealth Management. "Expectations are somewhat contained, so even if there is something before the 15th, it may not herald a new bull market or unleash an upswing in investment and/or GDP growth globally."

Beyond the trade talks, the Federal Reserve and European Central Bank both have key policy meetings. In the case of the Fed, nobody expects major changes in policy. For the ECB, investors are watching to see how Christine Lagarde sets the tone in her first meeting as president.

Politics could also move markets. In the U.S., Congress continues its impeachment inquiry into President Trump. In the U.K., Britain prepares to vote in Thursday's crucial general election, which will set the country's course for how or whether it leaves the European Union. Polls suggest the ruling Conservative Party is set to win, though a recent narrowing of the lead is enough to keep the outcome uncertain. The FTSE 250 index of stocks dropped 0.4%. The pound rose 0.1% to $1.315, its highest since April.

On Monday, the Fed injected another $81.4 billion in short-term liquidity to financial markets, continuing a program it began in mid-September when the overnight-lending market, called the repo market, began to see unexpectedly high rates. While the Fed's actions have brought the market in line, it hasn't fixed it, and the problems show traders are still acutely concerned with all of the same issues they were at the beginning of the year, said Mohamed Zidan, chief market strategist at ThinkMarkets. They don't see a quick resolution to them, either.

"There is the anticipation of a lot of volatility next year," he said.

In U.S. stocks, shares of Merck fell 0.2% after it agreed to acquire ArQule for $2.7 billion. ArQule shares rose 104%.

Netflix shares fell 0.6% after the streaming company dominated the Golden Globes awards nominations with 17, more than double the top-nominated studio, Sony Pictures.

The Stoxx Europe 600 ticked down 0.2%. Tullow Oil was the biggest loser on Monday. The stock dropped more than 60% after the energy company cut production forecasts and its chief executive resigned, effective immediately.

Elsewhere in Asia, the Nikkei Stock Average rose 0.3% after data showed the Japanese economy grew faster than expected in the third quarter. Gross domestic product expanded by an annualized 1.8% in the three months ended Sept. 30, surpassing a preliminary official estimate of 0.2%.

Write to Paul J. Davies at paul.davies@wsj.com and Paul Vigna at paul.vigna@wsj.com


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

December 09, 2019 14:57 ET (19:57 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2019 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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