Stock markets around the world retreated on Monday amid concerns over the potential wider impact of a trade spat between China and the United States, while oil prices rallied to a four-year high after OPEC ignored U.S. calls to raise supply.
Wall Street equities stumbled on a wave of uncertainty over the future of U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversees the special counsel investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 presidential election.
The White House said President Donald Trump and Rosenstein are scheduled to meet on Thursday to discuss Rosenstein’s future.
The White House announced the meeting after a flurry of conflicting media reports on whether Rosenstein had resigned.
The New York Times last week reported that Rosenstein had suggested secretly recording Trump in 2017 and recruiting Cabinet members to invoke a constitutional amendment to remove him from office.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 181.45 points, or 0.68 per cent, to 26,562.05, the S&P 500 lost 10.3 points, or 0.35 per cent, to 2,919.37 and the Nasdaq Composite added 6.29 points, or 0.08 per cent, to 7,993.25.
In Toronto, Canada’s main stock index fell slightly despite a 2.5-per-cent jump in energy stocks with the rise of oil.
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index fell 16.821 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 16,207.32.
Nine of the index’s 11 major sectors were lower.
Barrick Gold Corp., up 5.8 per cent, was the top boost to materials stocks after the company agreed to buy Randgold Resources in an $18.3-billion share deal to create the world’s largest gold company by value.
Marijuana producers led a 2.2-per-cent increase in the health care sector with Canopy Growth Corp. rising 5.4 per cent and Aurora Cannabis Inc. up 3.6 per cent.
MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe shed 0.46 per cent.
U.S. Treasury yields across maturities briefly fell by around two basis points after an initial report that Rosenstein had resigned before ticking back up. Benchmark 10-year notes last fell 3/32 in price to yield 3.0796 per cent, from 3.068 percent late on Friday.
In European equities markets, the benchmark index for euro zone blue chip stocks retreated 0.6 per cent, while the pan-European STOXX 600, which also includes stocks in Britain and outside the European Union, was down 0.56 per cent.
Europe had followed Asia lower, with MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan closing 1.17 per cent lower, while Japan’s Nikkei rose 0.82 per cent.
China and the United States, the world’s two biggest economies, implemented with fresh tariffs on each other’s goods on Monday, showing no signs of backing down from an increasingly bitter trade dispute that is expected to knock back global economic growth.
“This is here to stay,” said Adrien Dumas, a manager at Mandarine Gestion in Paris, arguing that because trade is at the core of the Trump administration’s agenda, investors should accept that the issue is unlikely to recede any time soon.
“It’s a negative and it adds to other issues,” he said, pointing to stress in emerging markets or political risk in Italy and Britain.
A worsening trade environment is likely to exacerbate diverging economic performance and policy rates between different regions, Citi analysts said in a note on Monday.
“The U.S. economy is moving full steam ahead, bolstered by pro-cyclical policies, while others are lagging,” they said.
Brexit, as Britain’s planned exit from the European Union is known, weighed on sentiment. On Friday, British Prime Minister Theresa May said talks with the EU had hit an impasse.
British opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn said on Sunday he would support a second Brexit referendum if his Labour Party backs the move, heaping more pressure on May, amid speculation that she could opt to call a snap parliamentary election.
European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi said he expected a vigorous pickup in euro zone inflation, backing moves toward unwinding an ECB asset purchase program meant to stimulate the economy. That drove the euro to a more than three-month high against the dollar.
The dollar index fell 0.02 per cent.
Oil prices jumped more than 3 per cent to a four-year high after Saudi Arabia and Russia ruled out any immediate increase in production despite calls by Trump for action to raise global supply.
U.S. crude oil futures settled at &72.08 per barrel, up $1.30, or 1.84 percent. Brent crude was last at $81.36, up 3.24 percent, or $2.55.