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LONDON MARKET CLOSE: Trump's Mexican Standoff Sees Stocks End Lower

Fri, 31st May 2019 17:10

LONDON (Alliance News) - Stocks across the globe were engulfed in a sea of red on Friday, as the US added another front to its trade war, as President Donald Trump took aim at Mexico. Amid the ongoing trade spat with China, Trump revealed plans to use tariffs to compel Mexico to make efforts to stop flow of illegal immigrants across the country and into the US."On June 10, the US will impose a 5% tariff on all goods coming into our country from Mexico, until such time as illegal migrants coming through Mexico, and into our country, STOP," Trump announced in a post on Twitter.He added: "The tariff will gradually increase until the Illegal immigration problem is remedied, at which time the tariffs will be removed."Trump revealed in a subsequent White House statement the tariffs will be raised to 10% on July 1 if the crisis persists, with tariffs eventually rising as high as 25% by October 1.The president argued the sustained imposition of tariffs will produce a massive return of jobs back to US, describing the move as an effort to "firmly and forcefully" stand up for America's interests.Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador called for dialogue in a letter to Trump written after the announcement, saying that the social issues driving migrants to the US "cannot be fixed with tariffs or coercive measures".The threat of new tariffs on Mexican imports comes amid the escalating trade dispute between the US and China, which has recently weighed on stocks and raised concerns about the global economic outlook.The FTSE 100 index closed down 56.45 points, or 0.8%, at 7,161.71, ending the week down 1.6%.The FTSE 250 ended down 141.26 points, or 0.7% at 18,970.25, ending the week down 0.8%, and the AIM All-Share closed down 1.87 points, or 0.2%, at 959.91, ending the week 0.2% lower.The Cboe UK 100 ended down 0.8% at 12,141.38, the Cboe UK 250 closed down 0.7% at 17,072.06, and the Cboe Small Companies ended down 0.3% at 11,774.35."Global stocks tanked again on Friday as investors responded to further threats from China and from Trump. Whilst China prepares a sweeping blacklist of foreign firms following the Huawei ban, Trump, the self-proclaimed Tariff man opened up new fronts to his trade war by threatening tariffs on Mexico. Risk has been swiftly swiped off the table as the latest development send fear through the financial markets; markets which are already jittery over the strength of global growth," said City Index analyst Fiona Cincotta. On the London Stock Exchange, Mexican gold miner Fresnillo ended as the best blue-chip performer, up 3.1%, tracking spot gold prices higher. Mid-cap peer Centamin closed up 5.1%. Gold was quoted at USD1,300.10 an ounce at the London equities close, up from USD1,288.70 late Thursday. The precious metal's price rises during times of market turmoil as investors flock to safe haven asserts. Furthermore, utility stocks - which are sought-after defensive investments in times of market distress - were higher with SSE, National Grid and Severn Trent closing up 2.8%, 1.9% and 1.8%, respectively. Whitbread closed up 1.8% after the hospitality firm pledged to return up to GBP2 billion to shareholders in the second phase of a GBP2.50 billion capital return programme. Conversely, miners were at the other end of the large cap index, following weak factory data from China.Antofagasta closed down 2.4%, Rio Tinto, down 2.3%, Anglo American, down 2.0% and Glencore down 2.1%.The manufacturing sector in China turned to contraction in May, the National Bureau of Statistics said, with a manufacturing PMI score of 49.4. That was shy of expectations for a reading of 49.9 and down from 50.1 in April. It also fell below the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction. In Paris the CAC 40 ended down 0.8%, while the DAX 30 in Frankfurt ended down 1.5%. "These latest threats by China and the US have ensured a turbulent end to a pretty awful month. The FTSE has dived 3.5% across May whilst the trade sensitive Dax have plummeted over 5%, with 1.6% of those losses from today alone. The S&P is down 6% whilst the Dow continued its longest string of weekly losses since 2011. The markets are finally waking up and smelling the bacon - Trump's trade war is spiralling out of control. There is a level of unpredictability which the markets strongly dislike. With each new threat the possibility of a quick resolution drifts further away," Cincotta added.Stocks in New York were sharply lower at the London equities close, with the DJIA down 1.1%, the S&P 500 index down 1.0% and the Nasdaq Composite down 0.9%.Mexico is one of biggest trading partners of the US and many companies - carmaker Ford Motor Co and retailer Walmart use Mexico as a central component of their supply chains. Ford and fellow carmaker General Motors were down 2.7% and 4.6%, respectively, in New York, while Walmart was down 1.5%.The pound was quoted at USD1.2616 at the London equities close, flat against USD1.2606 at the close Thursday, ahead of Trump's state visit to the UK on Monday. "With President Trump due to visit the UK in the coming days, recent events are likely to make for a rather tense affair. Reports that the US could threaten to limit intelligence sharing over the UK government's relationship with Huawei and 5G. This is unlikely to be particularly welcome given the UK's current position with respect to its relationship with the EU, and could be used by the US President as leverage on any future trade relationship," said CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson. The euro stood at USD1.1145 at the European equities close, marginally higher than USD1.1134 late Thursday.In economic news from the continent, Germany's inflation slowed sharply in May and at a faster-than-expected pace, as food price growth remained sluggish and services cost increases were weaker, preliminary data from the Federal Statistical Office showed.The consumer price index rose 1.4% year-on-year in May after a 2% increase in April, which was the fastest in five months. Economists had forecast price growth of 1.6%. In March, inflation was 1.3%. The harmonized index of consumer prices, or HICP, which is meant for EU comparison, rose 1.3% year-on-year following a 2.1% increase in April. HICP inflation was the lowest since April last year, when it was 1.3%. Compared to the previous month, the HICP rose 0.3% in May.Elsewhere, personal income in the US rose by more than expected in the month of April, according to a report released by the Commerce Department, with the report also showing a slightly bigger than expected increase in personal spending.The Commerce Department said personal income climbed by 0.5% in April after inching up by 0.1% in March. Economists had expected personal income to rise by 0.3%. Disposable personal income, or personal income less personal current taxes, increased by a slightly more modest 0.4% in April following a 0.1% uptick in the previous month.In addition, the reading on inflation said to be preferred by the Federal Reserve showed the annual rate of core consumer price growth also crept up to 1.6% in April from 1.5% in March."The slight tick-up in core inflation in April will allow the Fed to maintain its emphasis on a 'patient' policy stance in the near term, but core inflation is still unlikely to reach 2% by year-end. Inflation persistently below 2% puts the Fed in an awkward spot because of its 'symmetric' 2% inflation target, but it is positive for consumption and the broader economy. These trends will be central in the Fed's broader rethink of its monetary policy strategy this year," said analysts at Berenberg. Brent oil was quoted at USD63.32 a barrel at the equities close, significantly lower than USD67.50 at the close Thursday, amid Trump's Mexico tirade.On Thursday, the EIA reported a crude oil inventory draw of 0.3 million barrels for the week to May 24, but this smaller than expected draw sent oil prices down later in the day.Furthermore, the ongoing US-China trade war has triggered concerns about a global economic slowdown that could hurt demand for oil - putting further pressure on prices.The economic events calendar on Monday has manufacturing PMI readings from China, Italy, France, Germany, the eurozone and UK at 0245 BST, 0845 BST, 0850 BST, 0855 BST, 0900 BST and 0930 BST respectively. The UK corporate on Monday has a trading statement from sportswear retailer JD Sports Fashion and annual results from business parks operator Sirius Real Estate.

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