Global markets slip as investors fear US prosecutor probe of Huawei is a bad sign for the China trade war

trader surprised skepticalReuters / Brendan McDermid

  • Global stock markets were sliding Thursday as fears about a fresh deterioration in US-China relations spooked investors and sparked selling across the world.
  • Fears come after it was reported that that US federal prosecutors are investigating Chinese tech giant for allegedly stealing trade secrets from US tech companies.
  • Asian and European shares fell in Thursday trade, and US stocks set to open lower.
  • You can follow the latest stock market moves with Markets Insider.

Global stock markets were sliding Thursday as fears about a fresh deterioration in US-China relations spooked investors and sparked selling across the world.

By around 8.50 a.m. GMT (3.50 a.m. ET), major bourses in Europe were losing about 0.5%, and Chinese stocks slid by 0.9% or less.

The moves lower appear to have been driven by fears about relations between Beijing and Washington after reports that federal prosecutors are investigating Chinese smartphone giant Huawei for allegedly stealing trade secrets from US tech companies.

"It goes right to the heart of the unresolved IP issues with China," Jasper Lawler, head of research at London Capital Group wrote. "China are unlikely to shrug this off which is creating a risk-off environment. Signs of retaliation from China could see stocks sink further."

One aspect of the criminal probe involves allegations that Huawei stole robotic technology used for testing smartphones from a T-Mobile facility in Washington, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

A group of US lawmakers also put forward bills Wednesday that would ban the sale of US chips and components to the Chinese giant.

In December, Huawei's CFO was arrested during a stopover in Canada on allegations of violating trade sanctions with Iran.

Read more: A drastic plunge in shipping to China is the latest horrible signal for its economy

Here's how things look around an hour after the start of European trade:
  • Asian stocks were mixed, although the majority of major indexes lost ground following reports about Huawei. China's biggest loser was the Shenzhen Composite, which fell 0.9%. The benchmark Shanghai Composite was down 0.4%.
  • Outside of mainland China, Japan's Nikkei dropped 0.2%, while the Hang Seng in Hong Kong was 0.5% down. Shares in South Korea, New Zealand, and Australia ended the day with small gains.
  • Major European share indexes are lower, but not hugely so, with Germany's DAX the biggest loser, down around 0.5%. The Euro Stoxx 50 broad index has dropped 0.3%.
  • US futures point to a similar story across the pond later today, with the Nasdaq set to see the largest fall, down 0.5%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is set to open 0.4% down, while the S&P 500 will shed 0.4%.
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