AFP – Stock markets retreated Tuesday as rising tensions in Hong Kong and an economic crisis in Argentina added to persistent uncertainty over US-China trade talks and political strains elsewhere.
"Stocks are in the red as a series of factors continue to weigh on global sentiment," noted David Madden, analyst at trading group CMC Markets UK.
"The US-China trade standoff, aggressive easing from some central banks, worries about a no-deal Brexit, chatter that Germany is heading towards a recession, political uncertainty in Italy, the financial meltdown in Argentina, and the tensions in Hong Kong are all contributing to the poor economic climate."
Hong Kong airport authorities on Tuesday suspended all check-ins as pro-democracy protesters blocked the facility.
The decision came after thousands of demonstrators flooded into the airport for the second day running and blocked passengers from reaching entrances to the departure area in both terminals.
Hong Kong’s main shares index finished down more than two percent Tuesday, while Shanghai lost 0.6 percent.
Tokyo retreated more than one percent as exporters were hit by a rush into the yen, seen as a safe haven investment. Gold, seen also as a safe bet, continued to push above $1,500 an ounce. Oil prices steadied.
Emerging market currencies recovered Monday’s losses that came on the back of the shock win in an Argentina presidential primary election by populist centre-left candidate Alberto Fernandez over incumbent Mauricio Macri.
The news saw the country’s peso dive 30 percent at one point and the stock market lost more than a third of its value.
OANDA Asia-Pacific senior market analyst Jeffrey Halley said that while contagion from Argentina would be limited, "what it does highlight is that economic populism is alive and well in all corners of the globe — a far more worrying development in the long-term than a US-China trade war."
The euro meanwhile steadied versus the dollar and pound, despite news that German investor confidence hit a near-eight-year low, according to a survey by the ZEW institute.
The pound was stable against the dollar after data showed Britain’s unemployment rate has edged up to 3.9 percent and wages grew at the fastest pace in more than a decade.
"Sterling has found some very mild support from better wage data — pay up by the most in 11 years makes for a good headline for sure, but the risk of no-deal Brexit ultimately weighs," said Neil Wilson, chief analyst at Markets.com.
Elsewhere, dimming prospects for a US-China trade deal and sinking US Treasury yields weighed on Wall Street Monday, sending major indices down more than one percent.
– Key figures around 1100 GMT –
London – FTSE 100: DOWN 0.4 percent at 7,195.44 points
Frankfurt – DAX 30: DOWN 0.8 percent at 11,588.23
Paris – CAC 40: DOWN 0.4 percent at 5,289.98
EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.5 percent at 3,310.94
Hong Kong – Hang Seng: DOWN 2.1 percent at 25,281.30 (close)
Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 1.1 percent at 20,455.44 (close)
Shanghai – Composite: DOWN 0.6 percent at 2,797.26 (close)
New York – Dow: DOWN 1.5 percent at 25,896.44 (close)
Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1215 from $1.1217 at 2050 GMT
Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2083 from $1.2076
Euro/pound: DOWN at 92.82 pence from 92.84 pence
Dollar/yen: UP at 105.30 yen from 105.28 yen
Brent North Sea crude: DOWN two cents at $58.59 per barrel
West Texas Intermediate: DOWN three cents at $54.96 per barre