Bulls And Bears

Markets on edge as tit-for-tat tariffs loom

Should further levies be imposed, global equities will suffer meltdown: Strategist

Markets were on edge yesterday as a deadline to implement US tariffs on Chinese imports drew close.

The Straits Times Index (STI) - which added 11.82 points, or 0.4 per cent, to close at 3,256.71 yesterday - and the Kuala Lumpur Composite Index were two bright spots in a sea of red at the close of trading, with major indexes like the Nikkei 225, Hang Seng and Shanghai Composite all ending lower by 0.78, 0.2 and 0.9 per cent, respectively.

Turnover here was 1.85 billion shares worth $973.4 million, as losers edged out gainers 200 to 175.

At just past noon Singapore time today, the United States is due to level US$34 billion (S$46.4 billion) worth of tariffs on Chinese imports in a bid to squeeze trade concessions from the world's second-largest market.

China has threatened tit-for-tat actions and Commerce Ministry spokesman Gao Feng warned that the US will be adding tariffs to "companies from all countries, including Chinese and US companies".

FXTM's chief market strategist Hussein Sayed noted today's tariffs, if effected, form only a small portion of the US-China trade value.

"The critical question markets need an answer on is - where is this trade war heading towards?

"President Donald Trump had threatened to impose a further US$200 billion in tariffs on Chinese imports, which China will respond to in equal measure. If such measures are implemented, it will certainly lead to a meltdown in global equities, emerging markets currencies and debt," Mr Sayed wrote.

US markets were closed on Wednesday for Independence Day.

Singtel shrugged off Wednesday's news on its 31/2-hour Internet outage to advance 2.93 per cent or nine cents, closing at $3.16 apiece yesterday. The telco and the Infocomm Media Development Authority are conducting separate probes into the outage, with Singtel ruling out a cyber attack as a possible cause.

Venture Corp's stock was downgraded by UOB KayHian analyst Foo Zhi Wei to a "hold" from a "buy" with a lower target price of $18.20. The stock closed 1.89 per cent lower at $17.17. Among the reasons for the downgrade was the slowdown in production of Phillip Morris' IQOS smokeless cigarette device, which the broker said made up close to 25 per cent of Venture's 2017 revenue.

Singapore Press Holdings, which publishes The Straits Times, also saw its shares rise 3.09 per cent to $2.67 after a Bloomberg report cited a CGS-CIMB Securities "add" call on the group's intent to earn more from its real estate investments.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 06, 2018, with the headline 'Markets on edge as tit-for-tat tariffs loom'. Print Edition | Subscribe