Finance Finance News Wall St plunges on fears of economic slowdown and US-China trade uncertainty

Wall St plunges on fears of economic slowdown and US-China trade uncertainty

bond rates pointing to recession
The US bond market is pointing to a recession, as short-term (2-year) rates are starting to rise against longer-term (10-year) yields. Photo: Reuters
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Wall Street suffered its biggest plunge since the October sell-off — over lingering concerns about the trade war, and the bond market signalling a potential economic slowdown.

Investors have doubts about what was actually agreed between the United States and China when they struck a 90-day truce at the G20 summit over the weekend.

Markets at 8:15am (AEDT):

  • ASX SPI futures -1.3pc at 5625, ASX 200 (Tuesday’s close) -1pc at 5,713
  • AUD: 73.36 US cents, 57.68 British pence, 64.66 Euro cents, 82.74 Japanese yen, $NZ1.06
  • US: Dow Jones -3.1pc at 25,027, S&P 500 -3.2pc at 2700, Nasdaq -3.8pc at 7,158
  • Europe: FTSE 100 -0.6pc at 7,023, DAX -1.1pc at 11,335, CAC -0.8pc at 5,013, Euro Stoxx 50 -0.8pc at 3,190
  • Commodities: Brent crude -0.1pc at $US61.63/barrel, spot gold +0.6pc at $US1238.06/ounce, iron ore +1.2pc at $US67.16/tonne

While US President Donald Trump boasted about “an incredible deal”, China has said very little.

A lack of detail from Beijing left investors wondering if Mr Trump’s exuberance was warranted.

The White House said China would start buying farm products from US farmers “immediately”, and a “very substantial” amount of American agricultural, energy, industrial, and other products.

In contrast, China was yet to mentioned what specific goods it would buy.

Mr Trump also tweeted that the 90-day tariff ceasefire could be extended – and if a “REAL deal” cannot be struck, then he will revert to increasing tariffs on Chinese imports.

“If it is, we will get it done,” Mr Trump said in a Twitter post. “But if not remember, I am a Tariff Man.

“When people or countries come in to raid the great wealth of our Nation, I want them to pay for the privilege of doing so.”

The Dow Jones index plummeted by almost 800 points, or 3.1 per cent, to 25,027 at 4.15pm (local time).

The benchmark S&P 500 lost 3.2 per cent to 2700.

Meanwhile, the tech-heavy Nasdaq index tumbled by 3.8 per cent to 7158.

US recession fears

Also dragging down Wall Street, particularly its banking stocks, were fears of an economic slowdown, as signalled by the US Treasury bond market.

The yield for short-term bonds (two years) rose to 2.81 per cent — surpassing what investors could get from longer-term bonds (five years), which pay a 2.79-per-cent yield.

Normally, long-term rates are supposed to be higher to reflect expectations of continued economic growth.

But when the yield curve “inverts”, as it has now done, it is traditionally an indicator of an economic slowdown.

“Historically there is a good correlation between the yield curve inverting and the timing of the next recession and the bond market has been a big focus for today,” Binky Chadha, the chief strategist at Deutsche Bank, said.

The focus now is on the narrowing spread between the two-year (2.81pc) and 10-year yields (2.91pc).

The spread, between the two and 10-year yields, is currently at its narrowest in more than a decade, and its inversion has preceded the past three US recessions.

Australian economic slowdown

ASX futures are pointing to the local share market falling sharply (-1.3pc) at the open, following the weak lead from foreign markets.

The Australian dollar has slipped to 73.4 US cents, 57.7 British pence and 64.7 euro cents at 7.35am (AEDT).

In economic news, the third-quarter GDP figures will be released today.

Reuters-polled economists have predicted economic growth to be 0.6 per cent in the quarter, which takes the yearly GDP growth to 3.3 per cent.

This would be a slight slow-down compared to the previous GDP result, 3.4 per cent growth.