World Shares Retreat After Trump Approval of Hong Kong Bill

Chinese investors monitor stock prices at a brokerage house in Beijing, Thursday. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

Shares declined Thursday after President Donald Trump signed a bill expressing support for human rights in Hong Kong.

China reacted with indignation to the legislation, which Congress passed with overwhelming support. Beijing summoned U.S. Ambassador Terry Branstad for a dressing down and issued multiple statements threatening unspecified countermeasures.

In Hong Kong, where sometimes violent protests have dragged on for nearly six months, the Hang Seng index lost 0.2% to 26,893.73. The Shanghai Composite index lost 0.5% to 2,889.69.

In Europe, Britain’s FTSE 100 declined 0.4% to 7,397.66. The CAC 40 in Paris gave up 0.3% to 5,910.53 and Germany’s DAX declined 0.3% to 13,241.70.

U.S. futures were modestly lower, with the contracts for both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 losing 0.3%.

U.S. markets will be closed Thursday for Thanksgiving. They’ll be open for a half day on Friday.

Trump’s move did not come as a surprise, given the pressure from both Democrat and Republican lawmakers to support the legislation. But it’s unclear if the human rights bill, which Beijing views as “meddling” in China’s internal affairs, might derail recent progress in trade talks with Washington.

“We urge the U.S. to not continue going down the wrong path, or China will take countermeasures, and the U.S. must bear all consequences,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Markets appeared to be taking the developments in stride, said Stephen Innes of AxiTrader, “on the assumption that the U.S. legislation is unlikely to torpedo phase one. But of course, it does provide a stark reminder that on one level or another, U.S.-China frictions are always going to be a thorn in the markets’ side.”

Japan’s Nikkei 225 index lost 0.1% to 23,409.14 while the Kospi in Seoul shed 0.4% to 2,118.60. Australia’s S&P ASX 200 gained 0.2% to 6,864.00.

India’s Sensex added 0.1% to 41,059.51. Shares fell in Taiwan and most of Southeast Asia.

On Wednesday, investors capped a day of light trading on Wall Street ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday by serving up another set of stock market record highs.

The S&P 500, Dow Jones Industrial Average and Nasdaq composite closed at all-time highs for the third straight day Wednesday. And the Russell 2000 index of smaller companies hit its highest level in a year.

A batch of positive U.S. economic data helped spur the broad rally, extending the market’s recent string of gains.

The S&P 500 index rose 0.4% to 3,153.63. The Dow picked up 0.2% to 28,164. The Nasdaq climbed 0.7% to 8,705.18, while the Russell 2000 added 0.6%, to 1,634.10.

The key question in China-U.S. trade negotiations is whether they will be able to reach a deal before Dec. 15, when new tariffs are set to kick in on many Chinese-made items, including electronics and computers.

Pressure is building on both sides to complete a limited “phase-one” deal before the deadline, though the Trump administration could end up postponing it, as it did in October, to allow more time for talks.

Benchmark crude oil lost 32 cents to $57.79 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It fell 30 cents to settle at $58.11 a barrel on Wednesday. Brent crude oil, the international standard, gave up 16 cents to $62.84 per barrel.

The dollar slipped to 109.44 Japanese yen from 109.54 yen on Wednesday. The euro rose to $1.1018 from $1.1007.

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