August 6, 2019 / 9:12 AM / a month ago

GLOBAL MARKETS-Rout relents as China keeps yuan on leash

(Recasts with European market moves)

* European stocks claw higher, Wall Street futures up after slump Yuan still weak but retreat stalls on firmer-than-expected fix

* U.S. Treasury 10-year yield edges up from Oct 2016 lows

* MSCI Asia-Pacific index down 0.75%, Nikkei loses 0.7%

* Asian stock markets: tmsnrt.rs/2zpUAr4

By Marc Jones

LONDON, Aug 6 (Reuters) - A rout in global markets moderated on Tuesday as China kept the yuan on a tight leash after its landmark drop past 7-per-dollar led the United States to label Beijing a currency manipulator.

The trade war between the world’s top economies remained near boiling point, but the heat had been reduced just enough by a firmer-than-expected official Chinese central bank yuan rate overnight to steady some nerves.

Safe-haven assets, including bonds and some currencies such as the yen and Swiss franc, settled down as investors moved tentatively back into the euro, pound and some of the emerging market currencies that have been hit in recent days.

The mood was still fragile though.

“I think the tipping point for a more prolonged negative trend (for risk assets) is quite close,” said SEB Investment Management’s head of asset allocation Hans Peterson, referring to the trade war escalation and other risks such as Brexit.

“We have reduced both European and global equities. We still have a small overweight in EM (emerging market) stocks but just a small one.”

Trump and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had said on Monday that China was manipulating its currency, and that Washington would engage the International Monetary Fund to eliminate unfair competition from Beijing.

“Officially labelling China a currency manipulator gives the United States a legitimate reason to take even more steps,” said Norihiro Fujito, senior investment strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities.

“The markets are now scrambling to factor in the possibility of the United States imposing not only an additional 10% of tariffs on Chinese imports, but the figure being raised to 25%.

Goldman Sachs also said it no longer expects the United States and China to seal a deal before the November 2020 U.S. presidential election as policymakers from the world’s largest economies are “taking a harder line”.

Though U.S. Treasury yields had edged up from October 2016 lows of 1.672%, German yields stayed down with markets now pricing in a 100% chance that the European Central Bank will cut its already deeply negative interest rates at its next meeting.

YUAN TO WATCH

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan had ended down 0.75% after brushing its lowest since January. It has lost 3.7% so far this week.

The Shanghai Composite Index retreated 1.4%, while Japan’s Nikkei shed 0.7%, Australian stocks fell 2.3% and South Korea’s KOSPI slid 0.9%.

China’s offshore yuan stretched the previous day’s slide, and briefly weakened to 7.1382, the lowest since international trading in the Chinese currency began in 2010. But it pulled back to 7.0469 after Beijing’s firmer-than-expected yuan fixing on Tuesday.

The Japanese yen, a perceived safe-haven in times of market turmoil and political tensions, touched a seven-month high of 105.520 per dollar before dropping back to 106.700 in volatile trade.

The Swiss franc, another currency sought in times of turmoil, has gained roughly 1% against the dollar this week. It set a six-week peak of 0.9700 franc per dollar.

Japan’s 10-year yield fell to a three-year trough of minus 0.215%.

Brent crude oil futures plumbed a seven-month low of $59.07 per barrel as the trade war raised concerns about lower demand for commodities. Brent last traded at $60.41 for a gain of 1% as bargain hunting kicked in.

Spot gold advanced to a six-year peak of $1,474.80 an ounce as investors sought the safety of the precious metal.

Additional reporting by Shinichi Saoshiro in Tokyo; Editing by Catherine Evans

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