World stock markets edge higher as U.S.-China trade tariffs take effect

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NEW YORK (Reuters) – World stock markets rose and the euro climbed to a three-week peak on Friday as the threat of tariffs by the United States and China on billions of dollars of trade became a reality, though concerns about the conflict escalating capped the appetite for risk.

MSCI’s measure of world equities markets rose 0.4 percent to the highest level in a week while Asian stocks climbed nearly half a percent, led by a rebound in Chinese shares.

Stocks dipped broadly in Europe, with the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index lost 0.28 percent.

U.S. equities edged higher in morning trade after monthly jobs data showing a 213,000 gain in non-farm payrolls in June and stable wage growth.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 3.69 points, or 0.02 percent, to 24,353.05, the S&P 500 gained 7.6 points, or 0.28 percent, to 2,744.21 and the Nasdaq Composite added 41.21 points, or 0.54 percent, to 7,627.64.

“The trade headlines are at this point keeping the market uncertain,” said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Financial.

Signs of nervousness about the trade outlook were evident elsewhere in global markets with the Japanese yen and the Swiss franc firm against the dollar while core U.S. and German bonds were in demand.

Benchmark 10-year Treasury notes last rose 7/32 in price to yield 2.8145 percent, from 2.84 percent late on Thursday.

“Trade war concerns have shot up to the top of our concerns for investors,” said Isabelle Mateos y Lago, chief multi-asset strategist at BlackRock Investment Institute in London.

“We have to be aware that we are only one tweet away from much broader tariffs becoming a reality,” she said, adding that investors were trimming broad exposure to riskier assets.

The latest flows data confirmed that trend. Investors have pulled money out of emerging markets and European equities more quickly over the last two months than in 2016, Bank of America Merrill Lynch strategists said on Friday in a weekly note.

The United States and China slapped tit-for-tat duties on $34 billion worth of each other’s imports on Friday, with Beijing accusing Washington of triggering the “largest-scale trade war” as the world’s two biggest economies sharply escalated their conflict.

U.S. President Donald Trump has warned that the United States may ultimately target over $500 billion worth of Chinese goods, an amount that roughly matches its total imports from China last year.

Copper, seen as a barometer of the world’s economic strength because of its wide industrial use, on Friday fell to near a one-year low, at $6,221.50 per ton, before recouping some losses.

U.S. crude rose 0.51 percent to $73.31 per barrel and Brent was last at $76.96, down 0.56 percent on the day.

FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., June 27, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Reporting by David Randall; Additional reporting by Sinead Carew; Editing by Dan Grebler

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