U.S. stock futures and Asian shares tumbled on Thursday after Canadian authorities arrested a top executive of Chinese tech giant Huawei for extradition to the United States, fanning fears of a fresh flareup in tensions between the two superpowers. The news came as Washington and Beijing begin three months of negotiations aimed at de-escalating their bruising trade war, which is adding to global investors’ worries over rising U.S. interest rates and other risks to global economic growth. Markets had initially brightened after U.S. and Chinese leaders agreed a temporary trade truce at a meeting on Saturday. But the mood has quickly soured on scepticism that the two sides can reach a substantive deal on a host of highly divisive issues within the tight 90-day timeframe set out. Fed policymakers are due to gather at a Dec. 18-19 meeting, at which the central bank is widely expected to raise interest rates. Focus is on how many rate hikes the Fed could for 2019.
In currencies, dollar dipped against the safe-haven yen amid a spike in risk aversion, as equities continued their retreat on concerns about growth in the world’s largest economy. USDJPY dipped 0.2 percent to 112.98 yen, handing back some of the modest gains made overnight. EURUSD was little changed at $1.1346 after retreating from this week’s high of $1.1419. GBPUSD was a shade lower at $1.2719. Sterling had sunk to a 17-month low of $1.2659 on Tuesday after parliamentary setbacks for Prime Minister Theresa May but clawed back some of those losses on a more positive outlook for Brexit.
In commodity markets, Oil prices dipped slightly ahead of a meeting by producer group OPEC that is expected to result in a supply cut aimed at draining a glut that has pulled down crude prices by 30 percent since October. A monitoring committee of OPEC and its allies, including Russia, agreed on the need to cut oil output in 2019.
Brent futures were down 17 cents, or 0.3 percent, at $61.39 per barrel, while U.S. crude were at $52.57 per barrel.