Singapore market trends Monday: Trump lashes out at WTO and NAFTA, Nikkei opens lower

An aerial view of Singapore’s portAn aerial view of Singapore’s port

Singapore’s shares will start the week with fresh concerns over the U.S. trade war, as U.S. President Trump expressed dissatisfaction with his administration’s efforts to renegotiate NAFTA and hinted at walking away from the World Trade Organization.

Singapore stocks to watch Monday: CCT, Sembcorp, ST Engineering, DBS, UOL, PropNex

On Friday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average ended up 0.23 percent, the S&P 500 edged 0.08 percent higher and the Nasdaq inched up 0.09 percent. Futures for the three indexes were nearly flat in early trade on Monday. U.S. markets face a holiday-interrupted trading week, with markets shut on Wednesday for the July 4 Independence Day holiday.

The Straits Times Index ended Friday up 0.342 percent at 3268.70; July futures for the index were at 3256 on Friday, while August futures were at 3224.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 index was down 0.30 percent in early trade on Monday.

Trade War

The Trump administration drafted a bill, ordered by U.S. President Trump, to abandon the World Trade Organization, Axios reported on Sunday. The bill would allow Trump to raise U.S. tariffs at will, without consulting Congress, the report said.

Axios reported on Friday U.S. time that Trump repeatedly told White House officials he wanted to withdraw the U.S. from the WTO.

Another major U.S. company rebuked the Trump administration for its trade war. Storied U.S. automaker GM said on Friday that U.S. President Trump’s proposed tariffs on imports of autos would spur the company to cut jobs at home and abroad.

Trump also said he wouldn’t sign any NAFTA deal until after the mid-term elections in November, reporting complaining that he was “not happy” with the revised pact his administration has been working on with partners Canada and Mexico.

Canada has begun charging retaliatory tariffs on some U.S. imports after Trump imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

Currencies

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of currencies, was at 94.62 at 8:18 A.M. SGT, off levels as high as 94.95 on Friday.

The euro/dollar was at 1.1668 at 8:28 A.M. SGT, compared with Friday’s high of 1.1690.

The dollar/yen was at 110.722 at 8:30 A.M. SGT, compared with Friday’s high of 110.943.

The U.S. dollar was fetching 1.3637 Singapore dollars at 8:31 SGT, compared with Friday’s high of S$1.3687.

Oil

Nymex WTI crude oil futures for August were down 1.0 percent at US$73.41 a barrel at 8:06 A.M. SGT, while ICE Brent crude futures were down 0.98 percent at US$78.45, according to Bloomberg data.

WTI had closed Friday at its highest since 2014 amid concerns over Iranian and Canadian production.

U.S. President Trump took to Twitter on Saturday to complain that oil prices were “to high” (sic) and to claim that he had urged Saudi King Salman to increase oil production because of issues with production in Iran and Venezuela. Trump said he asked for up to 2 million barrels of increased production and he claimed Salman agreed.

It is unclear whether OPEC would be able to increase production that much even if it wanted to.

The White House also reported backed away from Trump’s claim, with a Bloomberg report noting that it would break the OPEC production agreements and push Saudi Arabia to its maximum capacity. The White House later said that Salman affirmed Saudi Arabia has 2 million barrels of spare capacity that it would “prudently use if and when necessary” for market balance, Bloomberg reported.

Iran has certainly been a trigger for higher oil prices: The U.S. was pushing allies to end all Iran oil imports by November 4, with no plans to consider waivers or extensions. The Trump administration violated the Iran nuclear deal in May; the deal had removed economic sanctions on Iran in exchange for giving up its nuclear program.

As of June 30, the U.S. national average price for gasoline was US$2.854 per gallon, up from US$2.239 a year ago, according to AAA.

World Cup

The World Cup continues to offer a round of upsets.

In the round of 16, France has ousted Argentina, Uruguay beat Portugal, underdog Russia overtook Spain and Croatia sent Denmark home.

Later on Monday, favorite Brazil will face dark horse Mexico. Belgium will also be playing Japan and Sweden goes up against Switzerland.

This article was originally published at 8:41 A.M. SGT on Monday 2 July 2018; it has since been updated to include additional details on oil and the World Cup. 

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