Stocks retreat as perfect storm rattles investors

Stock markets retreated on Tuesday as rising tensions in Hong Kong and an economic crisis in Argentina added to persistent uncertainty over US-China trade talks and political strains elsewhere.

"Stocks are in the red as a series of factors continue to weigh on global sentiment," noted David Madden, analyst at trading group CMC Markets UK.

"The US-China trade standoff, aggressive easing from some central banks, worries about a no-deal Brexit, chatter that Germany is heading towards a recession, political uncertainty in Italy, the financial meltdown in Argentina, and the tensions in Hong Kong are all contributing to the poor economic climate."

Hong Kong airport authorities on Tuesday suspended all check-ins as pro-democracy protesters blocked the facility.

The decision came after thousands of demonstrators flooded into the airport for the second day running and blocked passengers from reaching entrances to the departure area in both terminals.

Hong Kong's main shares index finished down more than 2% on Tuesday, while Shanghai lost 0.6%.

Tokyo retreated more than 1% as exporters were hit by a rush into the yen, seen as a safe haven investment. Gold, seen also as a safe bet, continued to push above $1 500 an ounce. Oil prices steadied.

Emerging market currencies recovered Monday's losses that came on the back of the shock win in an Argentina presidential primary election by populist centre-left candidate Alberto Fernandez over incumbent Mauricio Macri.

The news saw the country's peso dive 30% at one point and the stock market lost more than a third of its value.

OANDA Asia-Pacific senior market analyst Jeffrey Halley said that while contagion from Argentina would be limited, "what it does highlight is that economic populism is alive and well in all corners of the globe - a far more worrying development in the long-term than a US-China trade war."

The euro meanwhile steadied versus the dollar and pound, despite news that German investor confidence hit a near-eight-year low, according to a survey by the ZEW institute.

The pound was stable against the dollar after data showed Britain's unemployment rate has edged up to 3.9% and wages grew at the fastest pace in more than a decade.

"Sterling has found some very mild support from better wage data - pay up by the most in 11 years makes for a good headline for sure, but the risk of no-deal Brexit ultimately weighs," said Neil Wilson, chief analyst at

Elsewhere, dimming prospects for a US-China trade deal and sinking US Treasury yields weighed on Wall Street Monday, sending major indices down more than 1%.

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