By Herbert Lash
NEWYORK (Reuters) – Global equity markets fell on Monday as a U.S. crackdown on China’s Huawei Technologies led chipmaker stocks in Europe and on Wall Street to slide on fears of a widening trade war, while the dollar was steady before fresh insight on the Federal Reserve’s interest rates policies this week.
Asian shares managed to reverse some of last week’s losses after Washington said it would lift tariffs in North America, but fresh Chinese trade comments sank that sentiment.
China accused the United States of harbouring “extravagant expectations” for a trade deal, underlining the gulf between the two sides as the U.S. action last week against Huawei began to hit the global tech sector.
Alphabet Inc’s Google suspended some business with Huawei, Reuters reported, and Lumentum Holdings Inc, a major supplier of Apple Inc’s face ID technology, said it had discontinued all shipments to Huawei.
German chipmaker Infineon said it has continued most shipments to Huawei, denying a report in Japan’s Nikkei daily that it had suspended deliveries to the Chinese firm.
Technology stocks are a big driver of equity market returns so concerns about a slowdown in the sector weigh on investor sentiment, said Michael Arone, chief investment strategist at State Street Global Advisors in Boston.
“The volatility that we’re seeing today is a direct result of President Trump’s threats to Huawei,” Arone said. “The challenge is, there are no near-term trade meetings to provide a positive catalyst to this discussion,” he said.
Apple’s shares fell 3.13%, Lumentum Holdings fell 4.1%, Infineon lost 4.56% and Franco-Italian chipmaker STMicroelectronics tumbled 9.18%.
The PHLX Semiconductor Index of 30 U.S. industry-related companies fell 4.02%.
Shares of Sprint Corp and T-Mobile US Inc jumped after their proposed $26 billion merger won the support of the head of the Federal Communications Commission, in a big step toward the deal’s approval.
Both companies pared some gains after Bloomberg News said the Justice Department, which also has to approve the deal, was leaning against it. Bloomberg said the department was concerned the proposed remedies did not resolve antitrust concerns.
Sprint surged 18.77% and T-Mobile gained 3.87%.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index closed down 1.06% and MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe shed 0.52%.
On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 84.1 points, or 0.33%, to 25,679.9. The S&P 500 lost 19.3 points, or 0.67%, to 2,840.23 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 113.91 points, or 1.46%, to 7,702.38.
The dollar was little changed but maintained last week’s gains as investors held off on big moves while awaiting developments in U.S-China trade negotiations and for insight on Wednesday into the Fed’s thinking on interest-rate policy with the release of the minutes from the Fed’s last policy meeting.
The dollar index fell 0.05%, with the euro up 0.08% to $1.1165. The Japanese yen weakened 0.16% versus the greenback at 110.05 per dollar.
U.S. Treasury yields slipped, with long-dated debt falling for a second straight session as risk appetite diminished amid the ongoing U.S.-Sino trade tensions.
Volume was generally light, with very little economic data scheduled this week. The highlight is expected to be the release on Wednesday of the Fed’s minutes from its last monetary policy meeting. Analysts do not expect surprises from the minutes.
The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note fell 6/32 in price to yield 2.4157%.
Oil prices rose to multi-week highs before global benchmark Brent eased as the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries indicated it was likely to maintain production cuts that have helped boost prices.
Brent crude futures settled down 24 cents to $71.97 a barrel and U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures gained 34 cents to settle at $63.10 a barrel.
Gold steadied after recovering slightly from a more than two-week low hit earlier in the session. U.S. gold futures settled 0.1% higher at $1,277.30 an ounce.
(Graphic: World FX rates in 2019 http://tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh)
(Reporting by Herbert Lash; Editing by Dan Grebler and Susan Thomas)