Global Shares Lower on Trade Worries

Global Shares Lower on Trade Worries

BEIJING (AP) -- World shares skidded Thursday, tracking moderate declines on Wall Street as anxiety mounted over the possibility the U.S. and China may not reach a trade deal before next year.

China's Commerce Ministry on batted away rumors that the talks were in trouble with a spokesman saying Beijing was committed to continuing discussions on core concerns.

Germany's DAX lost 0.7% to 13,071.17 while the CAC 40 in France dropped 0.8% to 5,848.82. Britain's FTSE 100 declined 0.7% to 7,209.60. Wall Street futures augured further losses, with contracts for the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average both 0.2% lower.

In Asia, Hong Kong's benchmark Hang Seng index fell 1.6% to 26,466.88. The Shanghai Composite index lost 0.3% to 2,903.64 while Japan's Nikkei 225 gave up 0.5% to 23,038.58.

A published report suggested the preliminary "Phase 1" trade pact under discussion with China might not be completed this year as negotiators continue to wrestle over differences.

Investors have been hoping the world's two biggest economies can reach a deal before new and more damaging tariffs take effect Dec. 15 on about $160 billion in Chinese imports. Those duties would cover smartphones, laptops and other consumer goods.

A report by Reuters cited an unnamed Trump administration official saying it was possible a deal might not be reached, but more likely that it would. The comments spooked investors already twitchy over the possible blow to the talks from U.S. Congressional resolutions expressing support for human rights in Hong Kong, where political protests have dragged on for months.

Beijing wants Washington to first agree to broader tariff rollbacks on Chinese goods.

Commerce Ministry spokesman Gao Feng told reporters at a weekly news conference that he had no new information to disclose. But he dismissed speculation the talks were in trouble, saying "outside rumors are certainly not correct."

Gao said China is continuing the discussions in hopes of resolving the disputes over technology and industrial policy for the sake of both countries and the world as a whole.

Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea's Kospi dropped 1.4% to 2,096.60 and Australia's S&P ASX 200 lost 0.7% to 6,672.90.

In India, the Sensex edged 0.1% higher to 40,673.75.

Growing optimism among investors that the U.S. and China were making progress toward a limited trade deal helped pave the way for gains in the market in recent weeks, including a string of all-time highs for the major stock indexes.

That optimism dimmed Wednesday as investors weighed the implications of more tariffs kicking in next month.

The two countries have raised tariffs on billions of dollars of each other's goods in the fight over China's trade surplus and technology ambitions. That weighs on trade worldwide and threatens to depress corporate earnings and global economic growth, which has already showed signs of slowing.

In other trading, benchmark crude oil shed 29 cents to $56.72 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It rose $1.66 on Wednesday to settle at $57.01 a barrel. Brent crude oil, the international standard, gave up 37 cents to $62.03.

The dollar slipped to 108.47 Japanese yen from 108.59 yen on Wednesday. The euro rose to $1.1081 from $1.1075.

(AG)