World stock markets tumble on Trump trade war fears

United States (US) president, Donald Trump's imposition of at least US$60 million worth of tariffs on China's products has already prompted signs of Chinese retaliation, something that could result in a trade war between the two nations.

Mr. Trump insists the tariffs stop other countries from taking advantage of America.

In response, the Asian nation informed this Friday the inclusion of 128 products of the United States in the tariffs for three billion dollars it will apply to USA imports to balance the losses due to the tariff hike on its merchandise.

The Chinese government said it will defend itself, and investors are anxious that trade tensions will wreak havoc on the world economy. The White House announced sanctions that could affect as much as $60 billion in imports and said Beijing steals or forces foreign companies to hand over technology.

"For a person who's been obsessed with stock market gains since his election victory 16 months ago, President Donald Trump doesn't appear too concerned about the impact his tariffs are having at the moment", said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at OANDA.

The risk of a U.S-China trade war is a regional concern, given the myriad supply chains and other ties across Asia.

Basic metals like copper, aluminum and zinc touched several months minimum, while prices of gold -considered an attractive refuge in times of uncertainty- went up to monthly heights.

Micron Technology fell more than 6 percent after Citigroup downgraded the chipmaker, citing falling NAND prices.

EU Trade chief Cecilia Malmstrom said the plans for steel and aluminum tariffs "are a highly unfortunate unilateral action, which goes against agreed worldwide rules".

"The economic impact on both China and the US will be determined by what form the tariffs end up taking".

The trade dispute between the world's two largest economies could destabilize the widespread growth happening globally, said Luciano Orengo, Portfolio Manager, Manulife Asset Management Ltd.

China has not taken these measures lying down, preparing a package of retaliatory tariffs on $3 billion of US products, including pork and wine. The property index lost 3.04%, industrials 1.94%, financials 1.19% and the platinum index 0.49%.

"I think the prices will move higher again". Among technology companies, Microsoft fell $2.69, or 2.9 percent, to $89.79 and Alphabet, Google's parent company, fell $40.85, or 3.7 percent, to $1,053.15. It was the 10-year note's biggest fall in yield since September 2017. Investors later booked profits to leave the yen up 0.1 per cent at 105.19 per dollar. Boeing rose $4.80, or 1.5 per cent, to $324.41. That continued Thursday, after U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said the tariffs won't apply to the European Union, Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil and Australia.

Earlier in the session, prices touched their highest since Feb 20 at $1,343.06 US, and were on track for their best weekly performance since the week of February 16, rising over 2%.