Renewed worries over U.S.-China trade spat stalk markets

A visitor stands in front of stock trading boards at a private stock market gallery in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019. Asian shares were mostly higher Thursday after strong earnings reports lifted indexes on Wall Street. (AP Photo/Yam G-Jun)
An investor walks in front of stock trading boards at a private stock market gallery in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019. Asian shares were mostly higher Thursday after strong earnings reports lifted indexes on Wall Street. (AP Photo/Yam G-Jun)
A visitor stands in front of stock trading boards at a private stock market gallery in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019. Asian shares were mostly higher Thursday after strong earnings reports lifted indexes on Wall Street. (AP Photo/Yam G-Jun)

LONDON — Renewed worries over the U.S.-China trade spat weighed on global stock markets on Thursday.

KEEPING SCORE: In Europe, Germany's DAX fell 0.5 percent at 10,880 and France's CAC 40 retreated 0.5 percent to 4,787. Britain's FTSE 100 declined 0.7 percent to 6,818. Wall Street was set to fall at the open with Dow futures and the broader S&P 500 futures down 0.4 percent.

US-CHINA TENSIONS: A Wall Street Journal report, citing people familiar with the matter, said federal prosecutors were investigating China's Huawei Technologies Ltd. for allegedly stealing trade secrets from American companies including T-Mobile. The report said the investigation resulted from several civil lawsuits against Huawei and an indictment could be issued soon. This revived worries over relations between the two countries as officials struggle to find a compromise ahead of the Mar. 1 end of a moratorium on raising tariffs against each other's exports. Negotiators from both countries recently held trade talks in Beijing and more high level negotiations are in the works.

ANALYST TAKE: "investors are worried by a U.S. probe into Huawei and what that will mean for the trade talks between America and China," said Connor Campbell, an analyst at Spreadex.

BREXIT: Traders in U.K. assets are also trying to work out what's going on with regard to the country's upcoming exit from the European Union. Though Prime Minister Theresa May saw her Brexit deal with the EU overwhelmingly defeated by lawmakers, her government won a no-confidence vote on Wednesday. Now she's holding meetings with others in parliament to see if there is a Plan B. However, there are few signs that she's willing to drop her red lines for any Brexit solution, suggesting that the discussions are unlikely to make much headway. Still, the pound was up another 0.2 percent at $1.2909 as traders think the prospect of a 'no-deal' Brexit have diminished.

ASIA'S DAY: Hong Kong's Hang Seng dropped 0.5 percent to 26,755.63 and the Shanghai Composite index lost 0.4 percent to 2,559.64. Japan's Nikkei 225 index edged 0.2 percent lower to 20,402.27 while Australia's S&P ASX 200 rose 0.3 percent to 5,850.10. South Korea's Kospi added 0.1 percent to 2,107.06. Shares rose in Taiwan, Thailand and Indonesia but fell in Singapore.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell $1.05 to $51.24 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while Brent crude, the international standard, declined $1.03 to $60.29.

CURRENCIES: The euro was up 0.1 percent at $1.1402 while the dollar fell 0.3 percent to 108.74 yen.

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