SYDNEY (REUTERS) – Asian shares slipped on Wednesday (July 17) after US President Donald Trump to put tariffs on another USUS325 billion of Chinese goods, amid market nervousness over when face-to-face trade negotiations will resume.

The US dollar held firm in the wake of robust US retail data and a Brexit-driven dive in the pound.

Oil prices also nursed losses on hints US tensions with Iran could be easing and as data showed stockpiles fell by less than expected last week.

The fallout of the year-long US-China trade dispute was apparent in data from Singapore, where exports sank by the most in six years in June led by a steep drop in electronics.

In stock markets trade was generally muted with MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan off 0.3 per cent.

Japan’s Nikkei eased 0.5 per cent and South Korea 1 per cent, while Chinese blue chips dipped into the red.

E-Mini futures for the S&P 500 were a fraction firmer.

A surprisingly strong reading on US retail sales released overnight had outweighed weakness in industrial production for the June quarter and boosted the dollar.

Yet, it barely budged market wagers on a Federal Reserve rate cut this month, with Chicago Fed President Charles Evans touting 50 basis points of easing.

Futures are 100 per cent priced for a cut of 25 basis points, and imply a 25 per cent chance of 50 basis points.

“We do not expect these solid (retail) results to impact the Fed’s decision to cut rates at the end of the month,” said Michelle Girard, chief US economist at NatWest Markets.

“The Fed knows the US consumer is strong; policymakers are worried about the downside risks associated with global growth and weak manufacturing/business investment, which is why they believe a rate cut is appropriate.”

Analysts at Barclays were even more dovish, arguing persistent uncertainty and soft inflation warranted quarter-point cuts in July, September, and December.

POUND STRICKEN

Expectations of policy stimulus, and the resulting drop in bond yields, helped counter concerns about corporate profits.

JPMorgan Chase & Co and Wells Fargo & Co beat quarterly profit estimates but reported weaker net interest income. Bank of America and Netflix report on Wednesday.

The Dow eased 0.09 per cent on Tuesday, while the S&P 500 lost 0.34 per cent and the Nasdaq 0.43 per cent.

In currency markets, sterling was the star for all the wrong reasons. It slid 0.9 per cent overnight to 27-month lows amid fears the UK could tumble out of the European Union with no trade deal to soften the blow.

The pound was last at US1.2412, a big come-down from its March peaks of US1.3383.

The dollar was a major beneficiary at 97.351 on a basket of currencies, having risen 0.5 per cent overnight. The euro settled at US1.1210, after a loss of 0.4 per cent on Tuesday, while the dollar held at 108.18 yen.

The dollar’s gains tarnished gold a little, with the precious metal easing to US1,405.45 per ounce from a high above US1,418 on Tuesday.

Oil prices were mixed after falling more than 3 per cent overnight. Brent crude futures edged up 14 cents to US64.49, while US crude dipped 5 cents to US57.57 a barrel.