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Wall Street adds to losses while Europe's markets pause

AFP logoAFP 5/18/2018
Tom Cahill of Ventura Wealth Management told AFP equities had little reason to keep forging higher on Friday© Provided by AFP Tom Cahill of Ventura Wealth Management told AFP equities had little reason to keep forging higher on Friday

Global stocks finished mostly down on Friday as fraught US trade talks showed no outward signs of success.

Wall Street had a lackluster day, with little to spur investors onward amid a steady drumbeat of worrisome news on trade and geopolitical worries.

The Dow finished flat while the broader S&P 500 and tech-heavy Nasdaq sagged, losing 0.3 percent and 0.4 percent respectively.

Tom Cahill of Ventura Wealth Management told AFP that with earnings season past and no fresh economic data to spur enthusiasm, equities had no reason to keep forging higher.

"Right now the market is looking for a catalyst," he said. "It does not have one."

The White House announced Friday that trade talks with a visiting Chinese delegation had gone well but there was "no deal yet."

The news was likely welcome after President Donald Trump cast doubt on the talks as they began Thursday but came as US markets were already closing for the week.

Elsewhere in Europe, the main stock markets took a pause after record runs. London, Frankfurt and Paris all ended lower.

Top European stock markets had been propelled to heights Thursday by weakness in the pound and euro, which boosted share prices of exporters.

Milan's shares index saw the biggest fall among leading markets in Europe -- with Italy's banks in particular dragged down by the prospect of the country being led by a coalition of far-right and anti-establishment parties.

After rising above $80 on Thursday for the first time in three-and-a-half years, futures for benchmark Brent crude oil cooled slightly but remained elevated.

In a perfect storm of concerns about supplies, some forecast it could break $100 this year.

Joshua Mahony, market analyst at IG trading group, noted that "a distinct lack of major economic releases throughout the day" shifted the focus onto "geopolitical and economic factors, with rising bond yields and fears over a breakdown in US-Chinese trade talks proving a drag."

Brent and WTI, the other main oil contract, are up about one third from their 2018 lows seen in February, the upward pressure coming from US President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal as well as economic uncertainty in major producer Venezuela and an output cap by OPEC and Russia.

Higher oil prices are increasing expectations of rising inflation. This in turn is cementing expectations of multiple further interest rate hikes from the US Federal Reserve this year.

Key US 10-year bond yields are already at seven-year highs above three percent, with the prospect of paying more to borrow money sending the dollar higher.

Also keeping markets on edge is the future of a summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un after Pyongyang threatened to pull out.

- Key figures around 2100 GMT -

New York - Dow: FLAT at 24,715.09 (close)

New York - S&P 500: DOWN 0.3 percent at 2,712.97 (close)

New York - Nasdaq: DOWN 0.4 percent at 7,354.34 (close)

London - FTSE 100: DOWN 0.12 percent at 7,778.79 points (close)

Frankfurt - DAX 30: DOWN 0.28 percent at 13,077.72 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: DOWN 0.13 percent at 5,614.51 (close)

Milan - FTSE MIB: DOWN 1.48 percent at 23,449.65 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.51 percent at 3,573.76 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 0.4 percent at 22,930.36 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 0.3 percent at 31,047.91 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: UP 1.2 percent at 3,193.20 (close)

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1780 from $1.1796 at 2100 GMT

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3471 from $1.3515

Dollar/yen: UP at 110.77 yen from 110.76 yen

Oil - Brent North Sea: DOWN 79 cents at $78.51 per barrel

Oil - West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 21 cents at $71.28

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