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Trade rumbles stir caution

Overnight anonymous reports of trade tensions contradicted White House assertions that the talks with China are going well.  A cautious calm dominated markets, with average daily trading ranges in the Euro versus the US dollar hitting five year lows. European shares rose, US indices were mixed, and commodities were generally steady. However rising gold prices indicate a higher level of investor caution.

UK employment data helped drive the European outperformance. Better than forecast wages growth and lower unemployment kept the pound firm and saw the FTSE 100 advance. However the German DAX was the best major overnight, despite a survey showing deteriorating conditions.

Futures markets are pointing to a mildly positive start to Asia Pacific trading. Sensitivity to any news on trade is heightened by a lack of major data releases today. The unsourced reports on trade point to a lack of response from the US to concessions on intellectual property and patents, and in particular the US failure to lift tariffs in response. Although less likely, any decision by authorities in China to take this discussion public could rattle markets.

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