Global markets lower amid uncertainty about US-China trade

BEIJING (AP) — Global stock markets slipped Thursday amid doubts about a U.S.-Chinese trade deal and after the U.S. Federal Reserve chairman said it is likely to leave its benchmark interest rate unchanged.

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London and Frankfurt were trading lower after Tokyo and Hong Kong closed down for the day. Wall Street futures were up slightly.

Investors were wary after The Wall Street Journal reported that Chinese negotiators were reluctant to commit to the size of purchases of U.S. farm goods in an interim agreement aimed at ending a tariff war.

U.S. President Donald Trump said last month Beijing would buy up to $50 billion of soybeans and other American farm goods. Chinese officials have never confirmed that.

Investors are cautious “seemingly on the lack of good news on trade talks with China,” said Stephen Innes of AxiTrader.

“It’s more about China getting locked into a numerical commitment as opposed to balking at the deal,” said Innes. “This is something that needs to get ironed out and certainly not a bridge too far.”

Meanwhile, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said he expects the U.S. economy to keep growing at a solid pace but faces risks from slower global growth and trade tension.

The Fed cut short-term rates last month for the third time this year, to a range of 1.5% to 1.75%.

In midday trading, London’s FTSE 100 shed 0.2% to 7,333 and Germany’s DAX lost 0.3% to 13,193 after official data for the third quarter showed the country just barely dodged a recession. France’s CAC 40 wavered between gains and losses near 5,910.

On Wall Street, futures for the benchmark Standard & Poor’s 500 index and Dow Jones Industrial Average declined about 0.1%.

In Asia, Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 lost 0.8% to 23,141.55 while the Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.2% to 2,908.87. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng dropped 0.9% to 26,323.69.

Seoul’s Kospi advanced 0.8% to 2,139.23 and Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 gained 0.6% to 6,735.10. India’s Sensex added 0.4% to 40,257.81. Taiwan and Southeast Asian markets declined while New Zealand advanced.

China’s government reported Thursday that factory activity and spending weakened more than expected in October.

Growth in industrial production slowed to 4.7% from September’s 5.8%. Retail sales growth weakened to a six-month low of 7.2% over a year earlier from September’s 7.8%.

Japanese data showed economic growth slowed to 0.1% over the previous quarter in the three months ending in September from the previous quarter’s 0.4%.

Germany’s economy grew 0.1% in the third quarter, up from a 0.2% drop in the previous three-month period. That means it did not fall into a technical recession, but the country is not expected to bounce back sharply. Growth is forecast to remain subdued into next year as a global drop in manufacturing and trade starts to hurt other parts of the economy.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude rose 50 cents to $57.62 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained 32 cents on Wednesday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, advanced 59 cents to $62.96 per barrel in London. It gained 29 cents the previous session.

CURRENCY: The dollar declined to 108.60 yen from Wednesday’s 108.84 yen. The euro declined to $1.0995 from $1.1007.

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Matt Ott in Washington contributed to this report.