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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Global stocks mixed amid revived trade war worries

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Wall Street stocks finished in mixed fashion Monday, with the Nasdaq pushing to a fresh record but the Dow and S&P 500 both falling on revived fears of a trade war. Analysts pointed to sharpening rhetoric among different parties as a factor, with US stocks weakening after a solid open.

European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem said the trading bloc would "stand up to bullies" after US President Donald Trump threatened to tax German cars if the European Union did not lower barriers to US products.

Trump provoked the Europeans still further in a tweet on Monday morning saying US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross would speak with the EU side "about eliminating the large tariffs and barriers they use against the USA.""Now, when we start to hear about possible retaliation, it becomes a concern again," Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities, told AFP. "It's back to fear of a policy mistake on trading turning into a trade war."

The trade war worries cut into some of the optimism following Friday's strong US jobs report and over the announcement of a surprise summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The Nasdaq finished up 0.4 percent at a second straight record, but both the Dow and S&P 500 ended in the red.

Stocks were mixed elsewhere, with London and Paris little changed, but Frankfurt adding 0.6 percent after energy giant E.ON announced plans to take over Innogy, the renewables subsidiary of competitor RWE, in a deal valued at around 20 billion euros.

The deal fueled a rally of shares in the companies involved, with E.ON shares up by more than four percent in closing trade, and RWE stock just over nine percent higher.  Equity markets in Tokyo and Hong Kong both jumped nearly two percent following Friday's US jobs report.

The closely watched monthly report showed stronger-than-expected US jobs growth in February and moderating wage growth compared with the January report, mitigating concerns the Federal Reserve could speed its pace of interest rate hikes.

-AFP, New York

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