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Stocks mixed as US-China tariffs kick in; rand falls amid land reform debate


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Stocks mixed as US-China tariffs kick in; rand falls amid land reform debate

? Stocks mixed as U.S., China impose tit-for-tat tariffs.

? Fed minutes bolster expectations of September rate hike.

? South African rand, Australian dollar fall.

? Alibaba earnings, Jackson Hole symposium in focus.

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European stocks were subdued following a mixed session in Asia as the U.S. and China imposed additional tariffs on about $16 billion of each other's goods, while the dollar gathered strength as Federal Reserve officials signaled the possibility of another rate hike soon.

The FTSE 100 ticked up 0.08% as of 6:24 a.m. ET, while France's CAC 40 rose 0.13% and Germany's DAX fell 0.12%, with shares in European automakers Daimler AG, Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, Renault SA and Peugeot SA trading lower as tit-for-tat tariffs on Chinese and U.S. goods came into force today. Earlier in Asia, the Shanghai SE Composite index and the Nikkei 225 closed up 0.37% and 0.22%, respectively, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index slid 0.49%.

Various companies have begun to warned the public that rising levies could push up prices on consumer goods, while Moody's expects further trade restrictions to squeeze real GDP in the U.S., forecasting 2.3% growth in 2019.

Futures point to a weak opening for Wall Street. New York-listed Chinese tech conglomerate Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. reported fiscal first-quarter net income attributable to ordinary shareholders of 8.69 billion Chinese yuan, compared with 14.68 billion yuan in the same period a year ago.

Ten-year Treasury yields were broadly unchanged at 2.822% and the dollar spot index was up 0.21% as minutes from the Federal Open Market Committee's latest meeting revealed that many committee members believe it "would likely soon be appropriate to take another step in removing policy accommodation" if their economic outlooks hold firm. Fed officials also said ongoing trade conflicts could pose a "significant risk" to the U.S. economy.

"A September rate hike by the Fed looks like a done deal," wrote Guy Stear, an analyst at Société Générale. "The minutes were all about upside and downside risks and it will be up to markets to decide which one has a larger weight."

The South African rand was down 0.85% against the dollar, having fallen more than 1% earlier in the day. U.S. President Donald Trump said he has asked U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to "closely study" the South African government's plans for land expropriation. The Australian dollar continued its slide and was down 0.79% amid political uncertainty as Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull faced a leadership crisis, with senior ministers resigning and claiming that Turnbull no longer had majority party support.

The euro fell 0.25% against the dollar ahead of the release of the European Central Bank's July meeting minutes, which along with the Jackson Hole, Wyo., symposium kicking off today, will put central banks in focus, according to Martin van Vliet, a senior rates strategist at ING. Meanwhile, IHS Markit's flash purchasing managers' index data for the eurozone pointed to a slight improvement in economic activity in August, though company optimism fell to its lowest in nearly two years.

The pound weakened 0.09% against the dollar as the U.K. government prepares to lay out no-deal Brexit scenarios and release a series of notes advising citizens and companies on how to cushion any potential disruption.

Brent crude oil slid 0.33% to $74.53 per barrel on the ICE Futures Exchange as Saudi Arabia's energy minister denied reports that the kingdom has shelved the planned IPO of state-owned oil giant Saudi Arabian Oil Co., insisting that Riyadh "remains committed" to its plans. Gold slipped 0.55% to 1,189.18 per ounce.

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The day ahead:

7:30 a.m. ET — ECB minutes

8:30 a.m. ET — U.S. jobless claims (Econoday consensus: 215,000 new claims)

9 a.m. ET — U.S. FHFA house price index (Econoday consensus: 0.4% MOM)

9:45 a.m. ET — U.S. PMI composite flash (Econoday consensus: 55.6)

10 a.m. ET — Eurozone EC consumer confidence flash (Econoday consensus: -0.6)

10 a.m. ET — U.S. new home sales (Econoday consensus: 649,000)

10:30 a.m. ET — U.S. EIA natural gas report

11 a.m. ET — U.S. Kansas City Fed manufacturing index (Econoday consensus: 23)

4:30 p.m. ET — U.S. Fed balance sheet

4:30 p.m. ET — U.S. money supply