© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A man walks in front of a screen showing today’s movements of Nikkei share average outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan

By Shinichi Saoshiro

TOKYO (Reuters) – Asian equities tracked Wall Street’s slide on Wednesday as the latest developments in the U.S.-China trade conflict fanned fresh fears about global growth, driving support for safe-haven government bonds.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 0.3 percent, stooping to its lowest level since late March.

Australian stocks declined 0.35 percent, South Korea’s fell 1 percent and Japan’s was down 1.5 percent.

Wall Street stocks slid on Tuesday, with the losing 1.65 percent and the shedding 1.8 percent on the U.S.-China trade concerns. ()

Global stocks had a rocky start to the week after Washington on Monday accused Beijing of backtracking from commitments made during trade negotiations. That followed President Donald Trump’s unexpected statement on Sunday that he would raise tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods to 25 percent from 10 percent.

Beijing said on Tuesday that Chinese Vice Premier Liu He will visit the United States on Thursday and Friday for trade talks. Additional tariffs are set to take effect on Friday if a trade agreement is not reached by then.

“From an equity market perspective, the immediate focus is on the two-day talks scheduled to take place between the U.S. and Chinese officials,” said Masahiro Ichikawa, senior strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui DS Asset Management.

“However, it is difficult to imagine the two parties resolving their differences in just two days of talks. The markets may have to begin pricing in the trade conflict as a long-term factor once again.”

Government bond prices surged and their yields slid sharply as investor panic took a toll on growth asset markets.

Benchmark 10-year yields on U.S. Treasuries and German bunds sank to one-month lows.

In currency markets, the dollar struggled at 110.25 yen after slipping to a six-week low of 110.17 overnight.

The Japanese yen, a perceived safe-haven, often gains against its peers in times of market turmoil and political strife.

The euro was little changed at $1.1191 after ending the previous day nearly flat.

The Australian dollar was unchanged at $0.7010.

The gained 0.35 percent the previous day after the Reserve Bank of Australia defied expectations for an interest rate cut, keeping rates unchanged at 1.5 percent.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures nudged up 0.28 percent to $61.57 per barrel, trimming some of its losses after sinking 1.36 percent on Tuesday.

Crude oil prices had dropped as renewed U.S.-China trade worries stoked concerns of slower global growth crimping demand for commodities. Expectations that stockpiles could hit fresh 19-month highs also weighed on oil. [O/R]

(Graphic: Asian stock markets – https://tmsnrt.rs/2zpUAr4)

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2019-05-07