BEIJING/March 31, 2017 (AP)(STL.News) — Global stock markets sank Friday after U.S. President Donald Trump said his first meeting with his Chinese counterpart next week will be “very difficult.”
KEEPING SCORE: In early trading, London’s FTSE 100 lost 0.5 percent to 7,333.81 and France’s CAC 40 shed 0.3 percent to 5,074.11. Germany’s DAX declined 0.1 percent to 12,246.81. On Thursday, the DAX and CAC 40 gained 0.2 percent while the FTSE 100 lost 0.5 percent. Wall Street looked set for declines with futures for the Dow Jones industrial average down 0.2 percent and Standard & Poor’s down 0.3 percent.
ASIA’S DAY: Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 fell 0.8 percent to 18,909.20 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 0.8 percent to 24,111.59. Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 declined 0.5 percent to 5,864.90 and Seoul’s Kospi retreated 0.2 percent to 2,160.23. India’s Sensex gave up 0.2 percent to 29,583.58 and Taiwan and New Zealand rose. Singapore gained while other Southeast Asian bourses fell.
WALL STREET: Stocks were boosted by gains for banks and other financial companies on rising bond yields, which result in higher rates on loans. That nudged the Nasdaq composite index to an all-time high. Energy companies also gained as crude oil prices rose. Utilities and other high-dividend stocks fell. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.3 percent to 20,728.49. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index added 0.3 percent to 2,368.06. The Nasdaq gained 0.3 percent to 5,914.34.
TRUMP WATCH: Trump tweeted that his April 6-7 meeting with Xi Jinping “will be a very difficult one in that we can no longer have massive trade deficits and job losses.” On Friday, Trump was due to sign orders calling for an official report on trade abuses by other governments and for authorities to step up collection of anti-dumping duties on imports. “A bad meeting with President Xi would raise the prospect of a trade war,” Tim Condon of ING said in a report.
ANALYST’S TAKE: “Perhaps all eyes would be on the first meeting between the current leaders of U.S. and China,” Jingyi Pan of IG said in a report. Trump’s comment that the encounter will be difficult “perhaps adds on to the importance of this meeting and any animosity created could perhaps dent markets on both ends.”
CHINESE MANUFACTURING: Factory activity accelerated in March in what the government said is a sign economic growth is stabilizing. A purchasing managers’ index released by the National Bureau of Statistics rose to 51.8 from February’s 51.6 on a 100-point scale in which numbers above 50 show activity expanding.
US GDP: The Commerce Department raised its estimate for economic growth in the fourth quarter of 2016 to 2.1 percent from 1.9 percent. It said consumer spending increased more than expected. The Labor Department said applications for unemployment benefits dipped last week. The latest data follow positive reports on consumer confidence and housing this week.
OIL DEAL: ConocoPhillips agreed to sell most of its Canadian assets to Canada’s Cenovus Energy in a deal valued at $13.2 billion. ConocoPhillips stock was the biggest gainer in the S&P 500 index, climbing $4.05 to $50.
CURRENCY: The dollar declined to 111.86 yen from Thursday’s 111.91 yen. The euro rose to $1.0696 from $1.0677.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude fell 11 cents to $50.24 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 84 cents on Thursday to close at $50.35. Brent crude, used to price international oils, shed 16 cents to $52.97. It gained 59 cents the previous session to $53.13.
JOE McDONALD, AP Business Writer