Prospect of imminent higher tariffs hits European markets

The US–China trade talks seem to be on the brink of collapse and the US could start imposing double tariffs on already taxed imports as early as Friday, with China swiftly responding in kind.

The US–China trade talks seem to be on the brink of collapse and the US could start imposing double tariffs on already taxed imports as early as Friday, with China swiftly responding in kind. This would be particularly bad news for US car makers, Apple and luxury goods producers but services companies are likely to fare better. The intensifying trade clash is hurting European markets causing the FTSE to drop over 0.6% and the Euro Stoxx 50 Index to fall 1.4%. Out of hours trading suggests that Wall Street will also open lower, building on Wednesday’s decline.

Centrica crashes on ex-dividend trading

Centrica’s shares are crashing this morning, down 7.5% on ex-dividend buying and ahead of the company’s annual general meeting on Monday, where shareholders are expected to challenge the CEO’s high pay. Miners, resources companies and China-oriented firms are particularly under pressure but UK utilities and services companies are providing some counterbalance.

Pound lower as Brexit talks stop and start

The on-again off-again cross party talks on Brexit are keeping sterling under pressure and within a narrow band. The pound is back below the $1.3 marker which used to be broken every time the likelihood of a hard Brexit came into play, and below EUR1.61. For the moment there seems to still be a chance of a resolution and possibly even a fourth parliamentary vote on a Brexit deal before the European elections on 23 May, but nobody is holding their breath.

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