President Donald Trump is reportedly considering tariffs that would hit up to $60 billion in Chinese imports. Futures signalled a slightly firmer open for Wall Street, reversing their earlier direction.
Yet the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index .FTEU3 lost 0.14 percent and MSCI's gauge of stocks across the globe .MIWD00000PUS shed 0.46 percent.
The EU says the best way forward would be for the U.S.to cooperate in trying to reduce a glut of steel and aluminum on global markets, which experts says is largely due to China's overproduction in recent years.
While the tariffs on steel and aluminium, announced last week by Trump, are viewed as relatively insignificant in terms of imports and exports, moves to target China risk a direct and harsh response from Beijing.
Since Trump took office in 2017 as many as 35 senior officials from his administration have walked out, including Tillerson, according to Citi. German 10-year government bond yields seesawed in midday trades, falling to a one-and-a-half-month low at 11:25 a.m. ET. "Make trade, not war, Mr President".
The data helped Brent oil futures up nearly 0.5% after two days of declines while copper futures jumped nearly 1%.
Morgan Stanley analysts said the data suggested "that some tariff-related losses within its export business may be absorbed by strength elsewhere". The latter is slated to grow this year by 3.9 per cent, according to the International Monetary Fund's forecast in January.
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The news contributed to a continued flattening on Wednesday of the US yield curve, a move also aided by a third consecutive monthly decrease in retail sales data.
China now runs a $375 billion trade surplus with the US and Trump asked President Xi Xinping's economic advisers how to reduce this disparity during Xinping's recent visit.
Central banks in Japan and the eurozone also stuck with their dovish message to markets. "The key question is, does the United States retaliate against that retaliation", said Derek Scissors, a China trade expert at the American Enterprise Institute, a pro-business think tank.
The former revealed in its previous meeting's minutes that most of its policy makers believed it should "persistently" pursue powerful monetary easing.
Higher tariffs on these products would "hurt American families", said Hun Quach, a trade lobbyist for the Retail Industry Leaders Association.