Chinese, Hong Kong stocks dive on Trump tariffs threat

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Shanghai (AFP)

China's key stock indices plunged more five percent on Monday after US President Donald Trump threatened to hike tariffs on Chinese imports, potentially derailing high-level trade talks as they enter their final phase.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index ended the morning session down 5.19 percent, or 159.69 points, at 2,918.65, while the Shenzhen Composite Index, which tracks stocks on China's second exchange, sank 5.86 percent, or 95.88 points, to 1,540.71.

In Hong Kong the Hang Seng Index plunged 3.43 percent, or 1,031.00 points, to 29,050.55.

The losses were in line with a sell-off across Asia after Trump tweeted a threat to hike tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods at the end of the week.

The warning was apparently a bid to speed up talks between the economic superpowers.

But it casts a shadow over the next round of negotiations set for Washington this week, with Bloomberg News and the Wall Street Journal reporting the Chinese side are now considering delaying those negotiations in response to Trump's threat.

The Chinese yuan also suffered on Friday morning, falling by around one percent to 6.8023 yuan to the dollar, having lost 1.3 percent at one point, its heaviest drop for three years.

Friday's fall exacerbates a recent contraction in Chinese shares, which had so far enjoyed a strong year thanks to a raft of government pump-priming measures implemented to buffer China's economy from the trade turbulence and other headwinds.

After a miserable 2018 in which Chinese indices were hit by the trade war, the Shanghai index had risen around 30 percent from the start of the year to mid-April.

But signs that China would curtail further stimulus have contributed to a fall of around 10 percent in the past three weeks.

kwa/dma/dan