Shares fell in Europe after a mixed day of trading in Asia following a report that the U.S. is preparing to slap sanctions on a dozen more Chinese officials, ratcheting up tensions with Beijing.
That news coincided with data showing China logged a record high $75 billion trade surplus in November. Strong growth in exports is good news for the world economy but could worsen China-U.S. tensions.
Germany’s DAX slipped 0.3% to 13,253.44 and the CAC 40 in Paris lost 0.6% to 5,573.51. In Britain, the FTSE 100 lost 0.2% to 6,535.75. Wall Street looked set for a tepid start, with the future for the S&P 500 down 0.4%. The future for the Dow industrials also lost 0.4%.
Chinese exports surged 21.1% in November over a year earlier, propelled by strong demand from American consumers. Exports to the United States rose 46% despite lingering tariff hikes in a trade war with Washington.
A report by Reuters citing unnamed sources said the U.S. departments of State and Treasury were preparing economic sanctions on a dozen more Chinese official in response to Beijing’s crackdown on dissent in Hong Kong. The report could not immediately be confirmed.
The latest sanctions followed a tightening of visa restrictions on Chinese Communist Party members and their families announced late last week as tattered relations between Washington and Beijing fray further.
The decision to limit such people to one-month, single entry visas drew an accusation from China’s foreign ministry that the U.S. was escalating “political suppression” against Beijing.
In Asian trading, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng dropped 1.2% to 26,506.85 and the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo lost 0.8% to 26,547.44. The Shanghai Composite index sank 0.8% to 3,416.60. South Korea’s Kospi gained 0.5% to 2,745.44. In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 added 0.6% to 6,675.00.
Wall Street closed out last week with more record highs as traders took a discouraging jobs report as a sign that Congress will finally move to deliver more aid for the pandemic-stricken economy.
The S&P 500 rose 0.9% to 3,699.12, notching its third all-time high this week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 0.8%, to 30,218.26, also a record. The Nasdaq picked up 0.7%, to a record 12,464.23.
Hopes remain deeply rooted on Wall Street that one or more coronavirus vaccines will help rescue the global economy next year. China, Indonesia, Britain and the U.S. all are gearing up to begin mass vaccinations soon.
“A U.S. stimulus agreement will not be an instant panacea to U.S. woes; only beating COVID-19 into retreat will do that, but it’s the thought that counts,” Jeffrey Halley of Oanda said in a commentary.
However, efforts to contain surging virus cases have stoked worries about more economic pain for companies and consumers as governments around the world bring back varying degrees of restrictions on businesses. Outbreaks also are scaring consumers away from stores, restaurants and other normal economic activity.
Democrats and Republicans have been making on-and-off progress on talks for another round of support for the U.S. economy, including aid for laid-off workers and industries hit hard by the pandemic.
A proposed COVID-19 relief bill is expected to get backing from President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell but it won’t include $1,200 in direct payments to most Americans, said Sen. Bill Cassidy, a Republican from Louisiana who is involved in the bipartisan talks.
The hope in markets is that financial support from Washington could help carry the economy through a dark winter.
In other trading:
U.S. benchmark crude oil lost 57 cents to $45.69 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It gained 62 cents to $46.26 per barrel on Friday. Brent crude, the international standard, gave up 51 cents to $48.74 per barrel.
The U.S. dollar rose to 104.19 Japanese yen from 104.16 yen on Friday. The euro slipped to $1.2101 from $1.2120.