Market Update & Important Indicators:
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell intraday as trade tensions between the U.S. and China put the blue-chip index in danger of posting its longest losing streak since March 2017. The Dow industrials declined 196 points, or 0.8%, to 24462 in recent trading, on pace for its eighth consecutive session of losses. The S&P 500 lost 0.6%, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite shed 0.7%. The impact of escalating trade tensions became clearer after German auto maker Daimler issued an unexpected profit warning late Wednesday, saying Chinese retaliatory import duties on vehicles built in the U.S. would crimp sales and earnings. The announcement sent shares of auto makers around the world down, including Ford and General Motors, and gave investors a glimpse of how President Donald Trump's push to enact protectionist trade policies could affect corporate profits. While many analysts expect the world's two largest economies to pull back from a full-blown trade war, some investors believe these periodic blowups will become more common. The US gold price was down 0.1% to 1,266.90/oz.
The Stoxx Europe 600 index ended down 0.9% at 380.85 as trade war fears once again dented risk appetite. Car makers fell sharply after the U.S.-China trade war prompted a profit warning from Daimler, whose shares fell 4.3%. Fiat Chrysler lost 4.2%, which — along with falls in Italian banks — helped push Italy's FTSE MIB down 2%. Germany's DAX fells 1.4%, France's CAC 40 lost 1.1% and Spain's IBEX 35 was down 0.9%. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 ended down 0.9% as the Bank of England minutes heightened the risk of a rate rise in August.
In Asia, Chinese stocks again came under pressure. The Shanghai Composite Index fell 1.4%, taking year-to-date losses to 13%. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index declined 1.4%, while Korea's Kospi was down 1.1%. Japan's Nikkei Stock Average was among the region's notable outperformers, gaining 0.6%. Patrick Zweifel, chief economist at Pictet Asset Management, said the trade conflict in of itself shouldn't be overly detrimental to economic growth, which looks healthy at present. The greater concern is whether it affects sentiment, encouraging investors to pull money out of emerging markets, for instance, or saps business and consumer confidence.
Another region-beating day by Australia's stock benchmark pushed it to another 10 1/2-year closing high. The S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.96% to 6232.1, with a 10-point adjustment lower at the close costing the index its first consecutive 1%-plus gains in a year. It's up four of the last five sessions and 2.3% just this week as major banks have outperformed following this year's struggles for the sector. Telecom was the weak spot again, with Telstra down a further 1.8% following Wednesday's restructuring disclosure. Meanwhile, hospital operator Ramsay sank 7.5% on a profit warning. Still, the health-care sector jumped a further 1.4% to hit another record high.
Base metal prices were mixed on the London Metal Exchange. Gains were seen in aluminium that was up 0.6% to 2,181/t, and the 3-month copper contract that rose 0.4% to 6,789/t. Tin slipped 0.7% to 20,597/t and lead lost 1.0% to 2,363/t. The largest loss was seen in zinc that fell 2.2% to close at 2,971/t.
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