U.S.-China Tensions Weigh Markets

Oil prices remained range-bound on Monday as traders remained concerned about the tensions between the United States and China.

Crude oil

Reports on Sunday indicated that the U.S. government is likely to impose sanction on China if Beijing imposes national security laws that would give it stricter control over Hong Kong.

According to White House National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien, the current Chinese proposal lays out a full takeover of Hong Kong which U.S. lawmakers believe would not allow the city to maintain its "high degree" of autonomy. The sanctions, if imposed, would be legal under the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019, according to O'Brien. He also warned that if Hong Kong loses its autonomy in this way, it would also likely lose its status as a global financial hub. He warned that financiers will not want to remain in a Hong Kong dominated by China.

China's move to reclaim control over Hong Kong was condemned in a joint statement by some 200 political figures from North America, Asia, the U.K., Europe and Australia.

Oil prices have risen steadily in recent weeks after falling to below-zero rates in mid-April. The rally paused during Monday's Asian trading session, however, with Brent easing 19 cents per barrel early in the session. It later rebounded to post modest gains. As of 1:06 p.m. HK/SIN, Brent crude futures were up 0.28 percent to $35.23 per barrel. U.S. WTI futures were up 0.78 percent to $33.51 per barrel. (BNO)

Tensions were already high between the U.S. and China after U.S. officials accused China of covering up the coronavirus and not fully sharing information that could have prevented worldwide devastation.

Last Friday, U.S. 10-Year Treasury yields fell to their lowest levels in a week due to pressure from the U.S.-Sino tensions. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note hit 0.627 percent, and the yield on the 30-year Treasury bond also moved lower and was priced at 1.3517 percent.

Last Wednesday, the Senate passed legislation that could restrict Chinese companies from being listed on American stock exchanges or raising money from U.S. investors unless they comply with U.S. regulatory and audit requirements. Reports out earlier this month showed that China's direct investment in the U.S. fell in 2019 to its lowest level since the Great Recession of 2009. The decline came months before the coronavirus and the increasing tensions between the countries and can possibly set the stage for more significant withdrawals in the future, especially if tensions continue to mount. China invested only $5 billion in the U.S. last year in the form of mergers, acquisitions and investments, and only $200 million in Q1 2020, likely due to economic declines due to coronavirus.

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