GLOBAL MARKETS-Investors seek safety on threat of wider U.S.-China spat


By Herbert Lash

NEW YORK, May 22 (Reuters) - Global equity markets slid on Wednesday as investors sought safety in bonds, the Japanese yen and Swiss franc amid renewed worries over the U.S.-China trade standoff after reports the United States has another Chinese tech firm in its sights.

Relief over Washington's temporary relaxation of curbs against China's Huawei Technologies Co Ltd evaporated after reports that the White House is considering further sanctions on Chinese video surveillance firm Hikvision.

Fears of another blacklisting reinforced worries that U.S. President Donald Trump is looking beyond sealing a trade deal with China to a potentially bigger battle aimed at curbing Beijing's technology ambitions.

The yen and Swiss franc gained against the dollar and the price of the 10-year U.S. Treasury note rose, but the decline in U.S. and European equity markets was subdued.

"The market is still expecting a resolution or at least a modification of some of the worrying aspects out there about the trade relationship," said John Vail, chief global strategist at Nikko Asset Management in New York.

Major central banks around the world still have accommodative monetary policies, which favors equities, he said.

"Clearly the situation is more fraught than it has been in the past," Vail said. "But for the time being we're still positive on equity markets globally."

Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS closed 0.03% higher, while Japan's Nikkei .N225 rose 0.05%.

The Chinese markets, which have endured a volatile few months, were on the backfoot. The Shanghai Composite Index .SSEC closed down 0.5%.

MSCI's gauge of stock performance in 47 countries across the globe .MIWD00000PUS shed 0.20% and the FTSEurofirst 300 index .FTEU3 of leading Europeans shares fell 0.13%.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI fell 70.84 points, or 0.27%, to 25,806.49. The S&P 500 .SPX lost 6.85 points, or 0.24%, to 2,857.51 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC dropped 20.32 points, or 0.26%, to 7,765.40.

London's FTSE 100 blue chips FTSE bucked the trend, rising 0.07% as sterling slumped to lows last seen in early January amid renewed worries about the country's messy exit from the European Union.

The pound GBP= fell 0.43% to $1.2650, its lowest since early January, after Prime Minister Theresa May's final gambit to get a divorce deal approved failed dramatically.

The dollar held near a one-month high ahead of the release of Federal Reserve meeting minutes, which may provide more clues on why the U.S. central bank stood pat on interest rates earlier this month.

Investors sought havens in the Swiss franc, Japanese yen and German government bonds. FRX/GVD/EUR

The yen strengthened away from two-week lows against the dollar, rising 0.17% to 110.30 yen JPY=, while the Swiss franc EURCHF=, CHF= was higher against the euro and the dollar. The euro fell 0.04% against the dollar to $1.1154 EUR=.

In commodities, U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures CLc1 were down $1.25 at $61.88 per barrel after American Petroleum Institute data showed that U.S. crude stockpiles rose unexpectedly last week. O/R

Oil was also pressured by Saudi Arabia reiterating that it would aim to keep the market balanced and try to reduce tensions in the Middle East.

Brent crude futures LCOc1 lost $1.01 to $71.17 per barrel.

Benchmark 10-year notes US10YT=RR last rose 10/32 in price to yield 2.3909%.

Global indices

(Reporting by Herbert Lash Editing by Susan Thomas)

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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