China and the United States have agreed to cancel tariffs imposed during their months-long trade war in different stages, the Chinese commerce ministry said. World’s two biggest economies must simultaneously cancel some tariffs for there to be any agreement. The proportion of tariffs cancelled must be the same, and how many tariffs should be cancelled can be negotiated, the ministry said in a press conference. Chinese negotiators want the United States to drop 15% tariffs on about $125 billion worth of Chinese goods that entered into effect in September. They are also seeking relief from an earlier 25% tariffs on about $250 billion of imports ranging from machinery and semiconductors to furniture.
European shares hit a more than four-year high after China said Beijing and Washington seem to have agreed to cancel existing tariffs as stocks continue their climb for a fifth day. Euro STOXX index rose 0.4% with export-heavy Germany outperforming with a 0.7% rise. Among the top gainers across European sub-sectors were automakers and miners. London’s FTSE rose 0.2%. Asian shares were less enthusiastic as reports of yet another delay in sealing the Sino-U.S. trade deal left investors frustrated. MSCI’s Asia-Pacific index inched down 0.2%, close to a six-month high hit earlier in the week. Nikkei was flat in very quiet trade, having touched a 13-month top yesterday while Kospi eased 0.15% after hitting their 6-month peak. Shanghai blue chips lost 0.08%. Wall Street was underwhelmed by the news with Dow Jones flat, the S&P 500 a merely 0.07% up and the Nasdaq inching down 0.29%.
The US dollar eased to 108.74 yen from a weekly high of 109.24 but it was steady on a basket of currencies at 97.965. The euro was struggling to sustain any bounce at $1.1061 EUR to a chart support of $1.1060. Gold was little changed at $1,490.38 per ounce and well within its recent tight trading ranges while Silver recovered some previous losses trading last at 17.607. Sterling was on a down trend both against the dollar and the euro. Both main UK parties have been hit by a number of gaffes and withdrawals from some of their candidates conceding some ground to the Liberal Democrats who are now polling at 17% and have agreed a “Remain Alliance” with smaller parties. Markets fear that it is all pointing to another hung parliament on the December 12 elections which will unavoidably hit the pound further.
Oil prices rose amid hints from China on progress towards a trade deal with the United States, offsetting downward pressure from a huge increase in U.S. stockpiles. Brent was up 30 cents at $62.04 a barrel backtracking almost 2%. West Texas Intermediate rose 55 cents from their last close, to $56.9 a barrel. That provided a welcome boost to market sentiment after news that U.S. crude oil stockpiles rose 7.9 million barrels last week as refiners cut output and exports fell further as trade protectionism continues to bite. U.S. crude exports fell nearly 1 million barrels last week to 2.4 million barrels per day.