European stocks have fallen, government bond yields slipped and the Japanese yen firmed after the US government hit Chinese telecoms giant Huawei with severe sanctions, further straining Sino-US trade ties.
An index of European shares fell as much as 0.5 per cent in early European trading, with the German stock index down 0.4 per cent. US stock futures were down 0.4 per cent, pointing to a weak Wall Street start.
The broad weakness in European markets was somewhat offset by small gains in Chinese and Hong Kong stock indexes.
'Chinese stocks are up as markets expect authorities to intervene to support sentiment but this kind of activity is not sustainable and unless we see a clear resolution in the China-US trade conflict, overall sentiment will remain weak,' Neil Mellor, a senior FX strategist at BNY Mellon in London, said.
Bond markets, meanwhile, were signalling more pain for risk appetite.
Core German government bond yields were flirting with their lowest level in nearly three years while Dutch bond yields were about to dip into negative territory, a phenomenon not seen since October 2016.
Late on Wednesday, the US Commerce Department said it was adding Huawei Technologies Co Ltd and 70 affiliates to its 'Entity List' - a move that bans the company from acquiring components and technology from US firms without government approval. The move took global markets by surprise.
As trade tensions have made a reappearance on investors' radars, weak US data has also ratcheted up expectations of a US interest rate cut.
US retail sales unexpectedly fell in April as households cut back on purchases of motor vehicles and a range of other goods, while industrial production fell 0.5 per cent in April, the third drop this year.
'The markets are inching step by step in pricing in a rate cut. That is a sea change from a year ago when the consensus was three to four rate hikes a year,' Akira Takei, bond fund manager at Asset Management One, said.
Falling US yields have eroded support for the greenback with the dollar down 0.1 per cent against a basket of its rivals.
Oil prices gained on the prospect of mounting tensions in the Middle East hitting global supplies despite an unexpected build in US crude inventories.
Brent crude rose 0.3 per cent to $US71.99 a barrel, while US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude fetched $US62.26, also half a per cent higher.
© AAP 2019