Oil, copper slip as U.S.-China trade row escalates

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Oil and copper prices slipped on Thursday as the U.S.-China trade dispute escalated while global equity markets traded slightly lower as gains in U.S. technology shares offset declines in commodity and trade-sensitive shares.

FILE PHOTO: Traders work at their desks in front of the German share price index, DAX board, at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany February 28, 2017. REUTERS/Staff/Remote/File Photo

The United States and China implemented punitive 25 percent tariffs on $16 billion worth of each other’s goods, even as mid-level officials from both sides resumed talks in Washington.

The dollar rose after minutes released on Wednesday from the Federal Reserve’s most recent meeting suggest the U.S. central bank is on course for further interest rate hikes.

The minutes showed policy-makers discussed how global trade disputes could batter businesses and households. A prolonged trade war could change expectations for monetary tightening.

A drop in crude prices pushed oil heavyweights lower, with Exxon Mobil leading declining shares in U.S. markets and on MSCI’s gauge of global equity markets, which shed 0.29 percent.

Oil prices were choppy as traders were tugged lower by the U.S.-Sino trade dispute with receiving some support from a report showing a decline in U.S. commercial crude inventories.

Brent fell 25 cents to $74.53 while U.S. crude rebounded to slid 29 cents to $67.57 per barrel.

“Fears are rife that economic headwinds stemming from an escalation in their trade war will ultimately hurt global oil demand,” said Stephen Brennock, analyst at brokerage PVM Oil Associates.

In London metals markets, benchmark copper fell 0.35 percent at $5,984 a tonne, paring losses of more than 1 percent during the session.

China accounts for nearly half of global copper consumption and prices are near their highest in two years as manufacturers have rushed to buy refined metal to avoid import tariffs.

In Europe, the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index lost 0.14 percent while shares on Wall Street trended lower.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 99.88 points, or 0.39 percent, to 25,633.72. The S&P 500 lost 6.26 points, or 0.22 percent, to 2,855.56 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 14.05 points, or 0.18 percent, to 7,875.05.

The trade-sensitive S&P industrials sector dipped -0.44 percent, while the technology index rose 0.22 percent, led by gains in Microsoft and Apple.

U.S. Treasuries were little changed ahead of a speech by Fed Chairman Jerome Powell on Friday at the annual economic symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

“Everybody’s on wait-and-see mode for Jackson Hole tomorrow,” said Subadra Rajappa, head of U.S. rates strategy at Societe Generale in New York.

Benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury notes rose 2/32 in price to yield 2.8189 percent.

Signs of faster economic growth and inflation in the euro zone lifted German 10-year bund yields to 0.35 percent, up from recent lows of 0.29 percent earlier this week.

The dollar snapped a five-day losing streak.

The dollar index rose 0.29 percent while the euro slid 0.19 percent to $1.1574. The Japanese yen weakened 0.51 percent versus the greenback at 111.15 per dollar.

The Australian dollar fell 1.17 percent after several senior ministers tendered their resignations on Thursday and demanded that besieged Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull call a second leadership vote.

Reporting by Herbert Lash; Editing by Nick Zieminski

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