Huawei arrest: China demands release of Meng Wanzhou

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The massive fall in stocks was preceded by a major scandal involving the arrest of Huawei Technologies' chief financial officer, Wanzhou Meng in Vancouver at the request of the U.S. government, threatening to undermine the recently reached understanding between Beijing and Washington on their ongoing trade war.

The FTSE 100's basic materials sector was pushed down 3.4 per cent. Worries over global growth, triggered by Brexit fears and predictions from investors that the USA economy could slow or even enter recession, added to the slide.

Traders continued to shovel money into bonds, a signal that they see weakness in the economy ahead. "We're not going to deal that away in 90 days". But American officials also worry more broadly that Chinese plans for state-led creation of Chinese champions in robotics, artificial intelligence and other fields might erode USA industrial leadership.

"The concept of getting a quick resolution is fading", said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at B. Riley FBR.

Petroleum-linked stocks were also down amid a pullback in oil prices as OPEC members debated a production cut. And Meng's arrest sent stocks still further into a spiral Thursday as Asian markets reacted to the news. The Dow dropped 626 points, or 2.5 per cent, to 24,400. That's an open question at this point-but either way, it could not be more tumultuous in effect.

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On December 5, Canadian authorities confirmed that Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer and deputy chair of Chinese telecoms giant Huawei as well as a daughter of Huawei's founder, was arrested in Vancouver, British Columbia on December 1 at the request of USA law enforcement authorities.

The latest losses put the S&P 500 and the Dow back into the red for the year. The blue-chip index has lost nearly 1,400 points in the last two sessions.

Copper producer Antofagasta led the decline on the FTSE 100, sinking 7.1 per cent, or 57.8p, to 760p.

A profile of Huawei's chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou is displayed on a Huawei computer at a Huawei store in Beijing, China, Dec. 6, 2018.

China has demanded her release, calling the arrest a human rights violation.

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The arrest could drive a wedge between China and the United States just days after President Donald Trump and President Xi Jinping held a meeting in Argentina where they agreed to steps to resolve a brewing trade war.

Meanwhile, oil prices dropped as OPEC countries gathered on Thursday for a two-day meeting to find a way to support the falling price of oil, with analysts predicting the cartel and key ally Russian Federation would agree to cut production by at least 1 million barrels per day. That optimism quickly faded as scepticism grew that Beijing will yield to U.S. demands anytime soon, leading to a steep sell-off in global markets on Tuesday.

Analysts have speculated that the executive's arrest was linked to alleged violations of USA sanctions on Iran.

USA and Asian shares tumbled as news of the arrest heightened anxiety over prospects of a collision between the world's two largest economic powers, not just over tariffs but also over technological hegemony. Analysts predicted the cartel and some key allies, like Russian Federation, would agree to cut production by at least 1 million barrels per day. Saudi Arabia, the heavyweight within OPEC, said Thursday it was in favor of a cut.

"The US has identified that China has found a backdoor to enter the US market through venture capitalists and private investors but those are also now shutting down gradually". He previously worked in the Canberra press gallery and recently finished a Masters of Journalism at Columbia University in NY. Brent crude, used to price worldwide oils, dropped 99 cents to $60.57. The euro rose to US$1.1362 from US$1.1342.

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