Shares slide on U.S.-China spat over Hong Kong, dollar gains

By Herbert Lash
Traders work on the floor at the NYSE in New York

By Herbert Lash

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Global stock markets stumbled and the dollar gained on Wednesday after China blasted a U.S. Senate bill aimed at protecting human rights in Hong Kong, the latest obstacle to easing tensions in a prolonged Sino-U.S. trade war that has dented growth worldwide.

Gold prices rose to their highest in nearly two weeks before paring gains, while the yield on Germany's 10-year bond fell to a 2-1/2 week low as worries over U.S.-China trade talks once again swept world markets.

The dollar edged higher as worsening trade tensions overshadowed the release of minutes from the Federal Reserve's policy-setting meeting in October.

"The main focus today has been the trade war headlines. That's the proximate reason we sold off," said Michael Antonelli, market strategist at Robert W. Baird in Milwaukee.

"The Fed was a non-event in terms of price action," he said.

MSCI's gauge of stocks across the globe <.MIWD00000PUS> shed 0.45%, damping an equity market rally that has pushed the index up almost 20% so far this year and led to multiple record highs for Wall Street's three main indices, the latest on Tuesday.

Germany's DAX <.GDAXI>, the most trade-sensitive among Europe's regional indexes, closed down 0.48%, cutting earlier losses in half.

While trade tensions have roiled markets, sparking at times volatile risk-on, risk-off sentiment, a deal may not be needed for equities to do well, Antonelli said.

"Trade headlines, while impacting the market in the short term, don't seem to be impacting it longer term as evidenced by the fact we're near all-time highs even in the absence of any deal," he said.

The United States would raise tariffs on Chinese imports if a trade deal is not reached, President Donald Trump said on Tuesday.

China's foreign ministry said the United States should stop interfering in Hong Kong and Chinese affairs.

The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday will attempt to quickly pass the bill the Senate approved, a spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told Reuters.

In Europe, the pan-regional STOXX 600 index <.STOXX> fell 0.41% while the emerging markets index <.MSCI> slid 0.53%.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average <.DJI> fell 129.12 points, or 0.46%, to 27,804.9. The S&P 500 <.SPX> lost 12.69 points, or 0.41%, to 3,107.49 and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> dropped 47.14 points, or 0.55%, to 8,523.51.

The dollar index <.DXY> rose 0.06%, with the euro <EUR=> down 0.06% to $1.1071. The yen <JPY=> weakened 0.04% versus the greenback at 108.61 per dollar.

Yields on government 10-year <FR10YT=RR><NL10YT=RR> debt across the euro area fell 3 to 4 basis points, after trading in a narrow range the past two sessions.

In Germany, the yield on the 10-year bund fell to as low as -0.384% <DE10YT=RR>, down 16 basis points from five-month highs hit earlier this month.

Yields on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note <US10YT=RR> rose 14/32 in price, pushing its yield down to 1.7363%.

Oil prices jumped as U.S. crude inventories rose less than expected and as Russia said it would keep cooperating with the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to limit global supplies.

Brent crude <LCOc1> futures rose $1.49 to settle at $62.40 a barrel, while U.S. benchmark WTI crude <CLc1> futures settled up $1.90 at $57.11 a barrel.

Gold steadied after touching a two-week high during the session, as investors awaited further clues on Fed policy.

Spot gold <XAU=> dropped 0.1% to $1,471.21 an ounce.

(Reporting by Herbert Lash; Editing by Bernadette Baum and David Gregorio)