By Herbert Lash
NEW YORK (Reuters) – The dollar eased and global stock markets slipped on Tuesday as uncertainty kept risk appetite in check days ahead of the Dec. 15 deadline for a new round of U.S. tariffs on Chinese imports.
Investors were again torn between remarks that suggested a positive outcome to the 17-month U.S.-Sino trade war but also indicated a deal might not come until after U.S. presidential elections in November 2020.
Prospects for an initial “phase one” trade deal look good, acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said at a Wall Street Journal event.
But Mulvaney also repeated U.S. President Donald Trump’s assertion that he did not feel pressure to get a trade agreement signed with Beijing before the election.
Joe Saluzzi, co-manager of trading at Themis Trading in Chatham, New Jersey, said the mixed signals were typical, but he also sounded a note of caution.
“They’re going to posture one way then posture the other way, and that’s classic negotiation,” Saluzzi said. “That’s fine, we can all wait for that. But until you see the actual news, we really don’t know.”
Stocks meandered near breakeven. MSCI’s gauge of stock performance in 49 countries shed 0.11%.
Shares in Europe closed lower while stocks on Wall Street edged higher after Canada, Mexico and the United States agreed to a fresh overhaul of their quarter-century-old regional trade pact known as NAFTA.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 27.88 points, or 0.1%, to 27,881.72, the S&P 500 lost 3.44 points, or 0.11%, to 3,132.52 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 5.64 points, or 0.07%, to 8,616.18.
Emerging market stocks lost 0.12%.
“We seem to be on the cusp on a continued trade detente with China, which is quite a turnaround from a year ago,” said Chris Zaccarelli, chief investment officer at Independent Advisor Alliance in Charlotte, North Carolina.
“But the market is treading water until we find out for certain whether or not those tariffs will be postponed or possibly even walked back,” he said.
Investors were also awaiting the outcome of this week’s U.S. and European central bank meetings. The Federal Reserve is widely expected to hold interest rates steady after cutting them three times this year.
U.S. Treasury yields rose after The Wall Street Journal reported that American and Chinese trade negotiators were planning to delay $156 billion in U.S. tariffs on Chinese imports scheduled to take effect on Dec. 15.
Benchmark 10-year notes fell 3/32 in price to yield 1.8416%.
Germany’s benchmark Bund yield inched up to -0.29% after the ZEW research institute said its monthly index on economic morale among investors rose to 10.7 from -2.1 a month earlier, much higher than forecasts.
The dollar slipped against the euro on the better-than-expected German economic sentiment survey.
The dollar index fell 0.2%, with the euro up 0.28% to $1.1093.
The Japanese yen weakened 0.18% versus the greenback at 108.77 per dollar.
Oil prices inched up as the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries’ deal with associated producers last week to deepen output cuts in 2020 provided a floor for prices, but the U.S.-China trade tensions clouded the outlook for demand.
Brent crude settled up 9 cents at $64.34 a barrel and West Texas Intermediate oil gained 22 cents to settle at $59.24 a barrel.
Gold got a further lift from dollar weakness and the uncertainties surrounding trade talks. [USD/]
U.S. gold futures settled up 0.2% at $1,468.10 an ounce.
(Reporting by Herbert Lash; Editing by Richard Chang, Sonya Hepinstall and Jonathan Oatis)