Australian shares marked their sharpest fall in almost eight months, dented along with
markets across the region by worries about global trade amid heightened tensions between
the U.S. and China. The S&P/ASX 200 closed 1.9% weaker at 6640.3, near the day’s low.
Since logging an all-time closing high last Tuesday, the index has declined the last
four-straight sessions and has now pulled back 3%. Losses were broad, led by a 5.2% drop
in the technology subindex. The heavily-weighted biggest four banks were down by
0.8%-1.7%, and the miners saw heavy selling as BHP and Rio Tinto each lost more than 3%
and Fortescue dropped 7.2% with a sharp decline in Chinese iron-ore futures.
Stocks were pummeled by selling, pushing indexes from New York to Shanghai lower, as
the yuan reeled and fresh trade threats between Beijing and Washington raised fears of an
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 856 points, or 3.2%, to 25628. The S&P 500 shed
3.3% and the Nasdaq Composite declined 3.8%.
Stocks elsewhere retreated, with benchmark indexes in Europe, Japan and Hong Kong
falling at least 1% apiece.
The latest wave of selling started, investors and analysts said, after reports showed
Chinese and U.S. officials ratcheting up pressure on each other in their prolonged trade
fight. The Chinese yuan sank below 7 per dollar and hit an all-time low in offshore
trading Monday, with local officials blaming the depreciation on President Trump’s
decision last week to extend tariffs to almost all Chinese imports. Mr. Trump responded
on Twitter, accusing China of engaging in currency manipulation.
The back-and-forth dealt a blow to some investors’ hopes that the two countries would
ultimately reach a trade agreement. Worries about the conflict have weighed on global
growth this year. The trade fight has also had an impact on the U.S., where growth and
consumer spending remain strong: The Federal Reserve last week cut interest rates for the
first time since 2008, in part to cushion the economy against what it sees as rising
500 is up 13%, about 6% off its July 26 record and outperforming the Stoxx Europe 600,
Nikkei Stock Average, Shanghai Composite and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index for the year.
But fears about the trade fight intensifying have nevertheless cast uncertainty on the
Gold’s haven appeal boosted the metal to a more than six-year high, as an escalating
U.S.-China trade fight sparked a selloff in assets perceived as risky.
Gold, now up about 15% from its low of 2019, has surged over recent sessions after
President Donald Trump intensified a trade fight with China by announcing additional
tariffs on Chinese goods and China pledged retaliation.
China’s yuan currency on Monday fell to its lowest level in more than a decade,
breaching the key 7-to-the-dollar level. Investors took that as a sign Beijing could
allow further weakness, with the potential to further intensify trade tensions.
Gold for December delivery on Comex rose $19, or 1.3%, to $1,464.60 an ounce. That was
the highest most-active contract finish since May 9, 2013, according to Dow Jones market
data. Prices ended about 2.7% higher for last week. September silver — which because of its industrial use in addition to haven status can
be negatively impacted by the trade news — added 12 cents, or 0.8%, to $16.34 an ounce
Monday. It posted a loss of 0.8% for last week, however.
Meanwhile, industrial metals traded mixed. October platinum gained $7.50, or 0.8%, to
$860.50 an ounce, after a weekly decline of around 1.7% through Friday. September
palladium lost $14.30, or 1%, at $1,418.50 an ounce. Palladium logged at an 8.3% drop for
September copper fell nearly 2 cents, or 0.6%, to $2.555 a pound, ending 4.2% lower for
Oil futures resumed their drop, tracking losses ripping through broader financial
markets as concern for a prolonged trade war and its risk to global crude demand was
Last week, the U.S. oil benchmark suffered its biggest one-day fall in more than four
years and ended lower for the week after President Donald Trump moved to impose
additional import tariffs on Chinese goods and China pledged retaliation on other goods.
West Texas Intermediate crude for September delivery settled down 97 cents, or 1.7%, to
$54.69 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Friday’s rebound recovered a portion of the 7.9% drop from Thursday. But the
front-month contract still suffered a 1% weekly loss last week, according to Dow Jones
Market Data, as WTI’s drop on Thursday marked the biggest percentage fall for a
front-month contract since Feb. 4, 2015 and the settlement at $53.95 that day was the
lowest since June 19, according to Dow Jones Market Data. WTI remains off 17% from its
2019 settle high of $66.30 hit April 23.
Global benchmark October Brent crude settled at $59.81 a barrel on ICE Europe, down
slightly on the day. With its loss fattened by Thursday’s 7% slide, the contract ended
2.3% lower for last week.
China’s currency broke through the psychologically important level of 7 yuan to the
dollar, prompting President Trump to accuse Beijing of manipulating its currency in a way
that would backfire.
The depreciation sent the currency to a record low for offshore trading, and came days
after Mr. Trump threatened to broaden U.S. tariffs to cover essentially all Chinese
imports. He and many other U.S. officials have long accused China of weakening the yuan
to make its exports cheaper and gain an unfair advantage in trade. Beijing has denied
Even so, China’s central bank suggested that the depreciation was in response to Mr.
Trump’s decision last week to extend punitive tariffs to almost all Chinese goods.
The currency’s slump was “due to the effects of unilateralist and trade-protectionist
measures and the expectations for tariffs against China,” the People’s Bank of China said
in a statement.
In a tweet about 12 hours after the yuan crossed the 7 threshold, Mr. Trump described
the move as “currency manipulation.” He said: “China dropped the price of their currency
to an almost a historic low. It’s called “currency manipulation.” Are you listening
Federal Reserve? This is a major violation which will greatly weaken China over time!”
The yuan slid as much as 1.9% to a record offshore low of 7.1087 to the dollar in Hong
Kong on Monday, according to data from Refinitiv. That put it on course for the biggest
single-day loss since August 2015, when Beijing allowed a sudden depreciation of the
currency. China has let the yuan trade offshore, in locations such as Hong Kong, since
European markets end the first session of the week firmly in the red as rising trade
tensions between the US and China spook investors. The Stoxx Europe 600 drops 2.3%, with
the FTSE 100 down nearly 2.5%, the DAX off 1.8% and the CAC-40 falling 2.2%.
China irritated Washington by allowing the yuan to decline against the dollar and
reportedly instructing state-controlled firms not to buy US agricultural goods.
Japan’s Nikkei fell 1.7% and Korea’s Kospi dropped 2.6%, while the yuan weakened beyond
the psychologically important 7-per-dollar level, falling as much as 1.9% to 7.1087 per
dollar in Hong Kong in early trading.
China’s central bank said Monday the yuan’s decline was a result of trade protectionism
and higher tariffs on Chinese goods. The People’s Bank of China said the yuan remains
stable and strong against a trade-weighted basket of currencies and that the bank has the
ability to keep it at a “reasonable equilibrium.” It also said it would crack down on
short-term speculation in the yuan.
In a tweet Monday morning reacting to the yuan’s drop, Mr. Trump said: “China dropped
the price of their currency to an almost a historic low. It’s called ‘currency
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index fell nearly 3%, as a citywide strike disrupted the airport
and subway services. It followed a ninth weekend of protests against a controversial
extradition bill and China’s growing influence on the city. In a speech Monday, Hong
Kong’s leader Carrie Lam said society has become dangerous and unstable. The city’s stock
market has fallen 9% in the past few weeks as the protests dent business sentiment and
weigh on economic growth.