A currency trader watches the computer monitors near the screens showing the Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI), left, and the foreign exchange rate between U.S. dollar and South Korean won at the foreign exchange dealing room in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, May 15, 2019. Asian stocks followed Wall Street higher on Wednesday after President Donald Trump downplayed his escalating tariff war with Beijing and said a settlement is possible.(AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

Global stocks subdued as trade dispute remains in focus

May 15, 2019 - 7:55 am

BEIJING (AP) — Stock markets mostly turned lower in European trading Wednesday over the trade dispute between the U.S. and China, even though President Donald Trump said a settlement was still possible.

London's FTSE 100 slipped 0.1% to 7,235 while France's CAC 40 shed 0.4% to 5,321. Despite a report that Germany returned to growth in the first quarter, the DAX slid more than 0.4% to 11,939. Europe's biggest economy grew by 0.4% during the January-March period after a difficult few quarters, thanks to solid consumer spending and boom.

On Wall Street, futures for the Standard & Poor's 500 index declined 0.2% to 2,833 while the same for the Dow Jones industrial average also declined 0.2%, to 25,508.

Benchmarks in Shanghai and Tokyo closed higher as investors tried to figure out the costs of U.S. and Chinese tariff hikes on hundreds of billions of dollars of each other's goods.

Trump threw financial markets into turmoil with his surprise May 5 announcement of plans to raise tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese imports to 25% from 10%. When that went ahead Friday, Beijing retaliated by raising duties on $60 billion of American goods.

Investors worry that in addition to depressing trade, the fight sparked by U.S. complaints about China's technology ambitions might hurt consumer and business confidence, weakening spending and investment.

On Tuesday, some markets steadied after Trump said the conflict was a "little squabble" between friends.

The Shanghai Composite Index ended up 1.9% at 2,938.68 while Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.5% to 28,268.71 as investors also digested figures showing China's factory output and consumer spending weakened in April as the tariff war intensified. The data prompted suggestions that the Chinese government will prop up economic growth with more government spending, a possibility that could support stock markets.

Tokyo's Nikkei advanced 0.6% to 21,188.56 and Seoul's Kospi gained 0.5% to 2,092.78. Sydney's S&P-ASX 200 was 0.7% higher at 6,284.20 while India's Sensex gained 0.3% to 37,437.01. Taiwan and New Zealand advanced while Southeast Asian markets retreated.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude lost 60 cents to $61.18 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 74 cents on Tuesday to close at $61.78. Brent crude, used to price international oils, shed 34 cents per barrel in London to $70.90. It jumped $1.01 the previous session to $71.24.

CURRENCY: The dollar slipped to 109.39 yen from Tuesday's 109.61 yen. The euro fell to $1.1183 from $1.1208.

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