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US-China tensions rattle stock markets, commodities remain flat

US China tension
Martin Young

Stock markets in the US tumbled late Thursday following a week of steady gains. An upcoming news conference on US-China relations from President Donald Trump has been the catalyst.

Dow Jones Industrial Average futures dropped 0.4% while S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 futures also posted slight losses as President Trump prepares a press conference for Friday.

Stock markets have been posting gains this week as the S&P 500 topped 3,000 points for the first time since the mid-March COVID crash. Some of that progress was eroded on Thursday, however, as traders took profits ahead of Friday’s conference.

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The overall economic outlook is still grim with weekly government data pushing COVID-19-driven unemployment claims to over 40 million according to CNBC. Additionally, the death toll from the pandemic topped 100,000 in America this week.

Beijing has been putting more pressure on Hong Kong this week which has also generated criticism from the US. President Trump is expected to escalate the anti-China rhetoric on Friday following repeated criticism of its handling of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Despite the tension and yesterday’s losses, the major averages performed well this week. The Dow and S&P 500 are up more than 2.7% each week to date, while the Nasdaq has advanced 0.5% since the crash.

Markets in Asia have started mixed this Friday, however they could react strongly to the headlines with some already slipping according to Reuters. Tensions in Hong Kong are dictating the direction that markets in the region may take.

European stock markets have fared a little better this week with steady gains on building enthusiasm over the reopening of global economies.

Commodities remain flat

Gold prices have dropped a percent this week in a fall from $1,736/oz on Monday down to $1,719 by Friday. The asset is still in bullish territory however, remaining above $1,700 for the past three weeks.

Silver markets have fared a little better with a gain of just over a percent over the week as the asset reached $17.41/oz. Silver has remained relatively flat above $17 for the past three weeks or so, it has almost fully recovered from the coronavirus crash two months ago.

Oil prices have ended the week flat with US benchmark West Texas Intermediary trading just below where it was on Monday at $33.20. Brent Crude has dropped almost 3% this week in a fall to just over $35 this Friday.

Crypto assets have been in the green this week with a 6% gain in total market capitalization to $265 billion. Ethereum is currently leading the markets with a 10% gain on the day as network metrics improve.  

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