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Trade fears bite

Reports the White House is looking at imposing tariffs on a further $200 billion of Chinese imports as early as next week rattled markets overnight. Bonds rallied and shares fell. Industrial metals slumped, although oil prices continued to firm. A stronger US dollar may help in the Asia Pacific region today, ahead of important data from China.

Futures markets are pointing to opening losses across the region. Curiously, Australia 200 futures returned to positive territory before the close of overnight trading and despite pressure on commodity markets. A strong down draft in the Australian dollar that sees it trading around 72.5 US cents and below 81 Japanese yen may be the culprit.

Reporting season officially closes today. Overall earnings growth around 12% eases concerns about a market trading at ten year highs. Data manager Next DC has missed consensus estimates and may come under pressure today. Harvey Norman’s result will speak not only to the company’s prospects but also the retail environment. With 10% of the HVN’s shares short sold and expectations modest the announcement may fuel volatile trading.

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