The stock market slipped Tuesday along with the rest of Asia as global trade uncertainty returned to the fore after the United States reimposed tariffs on Argentina and Brazil, threatened steep levies against France and warned China of new measures if ongoing talks are not successful.
The Philippine Stock Exchange Index fell 22.01 points, or 0.3 percent, to 7,855.18 on a value turnover of P5.1 billion. Gainers, however, edged losers, 90 to 88, with 53 issues unchanged.
Universal Robina Corp., the biggest snack food maker, declined 3.7 percent to P144, while Jollibee Foods Corp., the largest fast-food chain, dropped 3 percent to P192.
DMCI Holdings Inc. of the Consunji Group, however, rose 1.6 percent to P6.50, while SM Prime Holdings Inc. of the Sy Group climbed 1.2 percent to P40.50.
The rest of Asian markets slipped Tuesday. Optimism that Beijing and Washington will eventually hammer out a partial agreement as part of a wider deal has supported equities for weeks, helping Wall Street to numerous records.
But investor sentiment was dealt a blow on Monday when Donald Trump said he would reinstate steel and aluminum tariffs on the two South American countries, which he accused of manipulating their currencies and hurting US farmers.
Tokyo ended 0.6 percent lower, Hong Kong shed 0.2 percent and Sydney sank more than two percent with investors disappointed that the Australian central bank held off cutting interest rates.
Seoul retreated 0.4 percent and Singapore was off 0.6 percent. Mumbai, Taipei and Jakarta were also down but Shanghai and Taipei both ended with small gains.
Later, officials warned they would hit France with up to 100 percent in levies on $2.4 billion in goods, saying a digital tax was discriminatory against US tech firms such as Google, Apple and Amazon.
Sparkling wine, yoghurt and Roquefort cheese could be hit as soon as next month, while US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer warned his office was also considering similar moves against Austria, Italy and Turkey.
On Tuesday, France vowed a “strong” response to any sanctions.
“Given Brazil was seen as a close friend of Trump and even they could not be exempt from tariffs, there is a notion that every country, regardless of what they do, could have tariffs imposed, which creates a lot of uncertainty of businesses,” said Tapas Strickland at National Australia Bank.
Analysts said the moves against Brasilia and Buenos Aires citing currency movements raised the possibility the US could use a similar justification against China, which it has also accused of forex manipulation.
Adding to the sense of unease, US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told Fox News that more tariffs on Chinese goods planned for December 15 would be imposed if the first phase of trade talks was not completed by then.
“If nothing happens between now and then, the president has made quite clear he’ll put the tariffs in,” he said.
Still, JP Morgan Asset Management strategist Kerry Craig said there were expectations that a “narrow deal around trade can be achieved.” With AFP