Global Markets: U.S. stock futures fall, Asia follows after Canada arrests Huawei CFO

A trader monitors share prices at the Bank Mandiri Sekuritas trading floor in Jakarta
A trader monitors share prices at the Bank Mandiri Sekuritas trading floor in Jakarta  

By Hideyuki Sano

TOKYO (Reuters) - 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.

S&P500 e-mini futures fell almost 2 percent at one point in thin Asian morning trade and were last were down 1.2 percent.

The losses in the first few minutes of trading might have been even steeper, but CME Group's Chicago Mercantile Exchange implemented a series of 10-second trading halts that helped limit the initial drop.

Japan's Nikkei slid 1.7 percent, with semi-conductor related shares leading the losses. Huawei is one of the world's largest makers of smartphones and telecommunications network equipment.

MSCI's ex-Japan Asia-Pacific index fell 1.2 percent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng dropped 2.1 percent while Shanghai shares dropped 0.9 percent.

Canadian authorities said they had arrested Huawei's global chief financial officer in Vancouver, where she is facing extradition to the United States.

The arrest is related to violations of U.S. sanctions, a person familiar with the matter said, though officials have so far stayed mum on her allegations.

The arrest heightened the sense of a major collision between the world's two largest economic powers not just over tariffs but also over technological hegemony.

Britain's BT said on Wednesday it was removing Huawei's equipment from the core of its existing 3G and 4G mobile operations. Australia and New Zealand have also rejected Huawei's products.

"The U.S. has been telling its allies not to use Huawei products for security reasons and is likely to continue to put pressure on its allies," said Norihiro Fujito, chief investment strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities.

"So while there was a brief moment of optimism after the weekend U.S.-China talks but the reality is, it won't be that easy," he said.

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.

The benchmark Treasury 10-year yield fell 1.7 basis points to 2.906 percent, near Tuesday's three-month low of 2.885 percent. U.S. markets were closed on Wednesday to mark the death of former President George H.W. Bush.

The yield curve remained inverted between two and five year zones, with five-year notes yielding 2.782 percent, below 2.795 percent on two-year notes.

"Worries about a U.S. economic slowdown are deepening as housing and other interest rates-sensitive sectors seem to have been hit," said Shuji Shirota, head of macro economic strategy at HSBC.

"If the upcoming U.S. jobs data on Friday shows some weakness, markets will face a major challenge," he added.

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, two sources familiar with the discussions said.

Still, lack of details could suggest such an agreement could be elusive, some analysts also said.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $52.57 per barrel at 0109 GMT, down 32 cents, or 0.6 percent, from their last close. International Brent crude oil futures were down 17 cents, or 0.3 percent, at $61.39 per barrel.

In the currency market, the dollar fell 0.3 percent against the yen to 112.82 yen on a risk-averse mood while the Australian dollar shed 0.5 percent to $0.7234.

The yuan eased 0.2 percent to 6.872 per dollar in the offshore trade while the euro traded flat at $1.1347.

(Editing by Kim Coghill)


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