European Shares Set To Extend Losses As Trade-war Worries Intensify


European stocks look set to extend losses from the previous session on Friday as rising tensions between the United States and China stoked fears of a global trade war.

After U.S President Donald Trump signed an executive memorandum imposing retaliatory tariffs on up to $60 billion in Chinese imports, China's ambassador to the U.S., Cui Tiankai, said the country doesn't want a trade war "but we are not afraid of it." Also, Beijing has outlined plans to introduce tariffs on U.S. imports.

Gold prices hit two-week high on safe-haven demand and the Japanese yen firmed up amid dollar selling while oil prices rose over 1 percent after Saudi Arabia said that OPEC and Russian-led production curbs introduced in 2017 will need to be extended into 2019 in order to tighten the market.

Benchmark indexes in Australia, China, Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea are currently down 2-5 percent.

Russia's central bank is set to announce its rate decision later today and it is expected that the central bank would cut its key rate to 7.25 percent from 7.50 percent.

Overnight, the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged as much as 2.9 percent, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq lost 2.4 percent and the S&P 500 plummeted 2.5 percent.

European stocks hit three-week lows on Thursday, with disappointing Eurozone private sector data and weak German business sentiment figures as well as mounting worries over global trade war weighing on markets.

The Bank of England left interest rates on hold, as widely expected, but left the door open to raise rates in May.

The pan-European Stoxx Europe 600 index retreated 1.6 percent. The German DAX dropped 1.7 percent, France's CAC 40 index shed 1.4 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 declined 1.2 percent.