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Global stock markets declined on Thursday after Japanese exports plunged and Chinese trade tensions with Washington and Australia worsened.
Investors were looking ahead to Friday’s meeting of China’s legislature for details of possible new steps by Beijing to stimulate its virus-battered economy.
London and Frankfurt opened lower. Tokyo, Shanghai and Australia declined after spending the day swinging between gains and losses.
Japan reported its exports fell 22% in April from a year earlier in their biggest decline since the 2008 crisis. Forecasters said they expect more export weakness due to slumping US and European demand.
Investors are optimistic about the global outlook despite mounting infection numbers in the United States, Brazil and other countries. But China's conflicts with Washington and Australia over the coronavirus, trade and Beijing's technology ambitions are adding to uncertainty.
China has blocked beef imports from four Australian suppliers in possible retaliation for Australia’s support for an investigation into the origin of the coronavirus pandemic. Meanwhile, the Trump administration has stepped up a feud over Beijing’s industrial ambitions by tightening controls on use of US technology by tech giant Huawei.
Investors are "trying to make heads or tails of the recent China trade spats with the US and Australia,” Stephen Innes of AxiCorp said in a report.
In early trading, the FTSE 100 in London lost 0.9% to 6,012.38 and Frankfurt's DAX sank 1.5% to 11,053.55. The CAC 40 in France declined 1.5% to 4,430.18.
On Wall Street, the future for the benchmark S&P 500 index was down 0.8% and that for the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.7%.
In Asia, the Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.6% to 2,867.92 and the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo declined 0.2% to 20,552.31. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong lost 0.5% to 24,280.03.Associated Press
Blinken landed in the Australian city of Melbourne on Wednesday ahead of a meeting with Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne as well as their Indian and Japanese counterparts who form the so-called "Quad.”
The virus has now infected more than 88,000 people and spread to over 60 countries after first emerging in China late last year. South Korea, the biggest nest of infections outside China, reported nearly 500 new cases on Monday, bringing its total past 4,000.
Under the partnership, announced by President Joe Biden, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, the United States and Britain will provide Australia with the technology and capability to deploy nuclear-powered submarines.
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