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Huawei CFO arrest sends global chip stocks plunging

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Global chip stocks tumbled on Thursday as the arrest of a top executive at Chinese tech giant Huawei renewed fears of an escalation in U.S.-China trade tensions.

Shares of Austrian chipmaker AMS plunged around 7 percent. Switzerland-based STMicroelectronics dropped 4 percent, while the U.K.- headquartered Dialog Semiconductor slumped around 3 percent.

The moves in European stocks followed losses in Asia, where shares of Japanese chipmakers Sumco, Tokyo Electron and Advantest each fell around 5 percent.

Canadian authorities arrested Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver on Wednesday, where she is facing extradition to the U.S. according to Canada’s Department of Justice. The arrest is reportedly related to Huawei’s violation of U.S. sanctions on Iran.

Analysts said uncertainty from Huawei and the broader U.S.-China trade relationship weighed on sentiment in the chip sector. Huawei is the world’s second biggest smartphone maker by market share, according to research firm International Data Corporation (IDC).

“It’s no surprise, then, that a potential disruption to its business and supplier relations would impact the outlook for a wide set of silicon vendors,” Peter Jarich, head of GSMA Intelligence, a research firm, told CNBC in an email Thursday.

Chipmakers that rely on global supply chains have been stuck at the center of the trade war between the U.S. and China. The iShares PHLX Semiconductor ETF surged nearly 3 percent Monday following the announcement of a 90-day cease-fire preventing new tariffs on Chinese and American goods. On Thursday, shares were set to open nearly 3 percent lower as the Huawei news overshadowed optimism about the U.S.-China relationship.

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Political uncertainty a barrier to global investment, CEO says

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Nigel Wilson, CEO of financial services firm Legal and General, discusses the global economy, investment demand, and political uncertainty.

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Obama told me that he was ‘close to starting a big war with North Korea’

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President Donald Trump (R) gestures as he meets with North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un (L) at the start of their historic US-North Korea summit, at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore on June 12, 2018.

Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images

President Donald Trump (R) gestures as he meets with North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un (L) at the start of their historic US-North Korea summit, at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore on June 12, 2018.

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump claimed Friday that the Obama administration “was so close to starting a big war with North Korea” when asked for details of the second summit between the U.S. and North Korea.

“When I came into office, I met right there in the Oval Office with President Obama. And I sat in those beautiful chairs, and we talked, it was supposed to be 15 minutes, as you know, it ended up being many times longer than that. And I said what’s the biggest problem? He said by far, North Korea,” Trump explained from the Rose Garden.

“I don’t want to speak for him, but I believe he would’ve gone to war with North Korea. I think he was ready to go to war. In fact he told me he was so close to starting a big war with North Korea,” Trump said.

The president then said that “a lot’s been accomplished” since meeting in June with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore. Trump continued by saying that the relationship with Pyongyang has since improved.

“Where are we now? No missiles, no rockets, no nuclear testing. We’ve learned a lot. But much more importantly than all of it, much more important, much much more important than that, is, we have a great relationship,” Trump added.

On the heels of Trump’s remarks, Ben Rhodes, a top Obama national security aide, wrote on Twitter that the U.S. was not “on the brink of war with North Korea.”

Since 2011, the North Korean leader has fired more than 90 missiles and conducted four nuclear weapons tests, which is more than what his father, Kim Jong Il, and grandfather, Kim Il Sung, launched over a period of 27 years. In 2017 alone, Kim launched 24 missiles and carried out North Korea’s largest nuclear test.

North Korea is the only nation to test nuclear weapons this century.



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Dow jumps 350 points on trade hopes, heads for 8th straight weekly gain

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President Donald Trump participates in the signing ceremony for the First Step Act and the Juvenile Justice Reform Act in the Oval Office of the White House December 21, 2018 in Washington, DC.

Win McNamee | Getty Images News | Getty Images

President Donald Trump participates in the signing ceremony for the First Step Act and the Juvenile Justice Reform Act in the Oval Office of the White House December 21, 2018 in Washington, DC.

Chinese President Xi Jinping said trade talks between the U.S. and China will continue next week in Washington. This comes after a U.S. trade delegation led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer was in Beijing this week.

China and the U.S. are trying to strike a trade deal before an early March deadline. If a deal is not reached by then, additional U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods could take effect. President Donald Trump, however, is considering pushing back the deadline by 60 days to give negotiators more time to come up with a deal.

“If there is a resolution, you’ve got a lot of market participants who are anticipating a big pop-up. That’s why we continue to see money into the equity market as well,” said Daniel Deming, managing director at KKM Financial.

The moves Friday come after the Dow and S&P 500 fell on much weaker-than-forecast retail sales numbers. Data from the Commerce Department showed U.S. retail sales contracted by 1.2 percent in December, the largest monthly fall since September 2009.

On the data front Friday, industrial production for January fell 0.6 percent. Economists, however, expected an increase of 0.3 percent. Consumer sentiment data for February, meanwhile, topped expectations.

—CNBC’s
Silvia Amaro
contributed to this report.

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