Chinese government officials told major state-run agricultural companies to pause purchases of some American farm goods including soybeans as Beijing evaluates the ongoing escalation of tensions with the U.S. over Hong Kong, according to people familiar with the situation.
State-owned traders Cofco and Sinograin were ordered to suspend purchases, according to one of the people, who asked not to be identified discussing a private matter. Chinese buyers have also canceled an unspecified number of U.S. pork orders, one of the people said. Private companies haven’t been told to halt imports, according to one of the people.
The halt is the latest sign that the hard won phase-one trade deal between the world’s two biggest economies is in jeopardy. While Chinese Premier Li Keqiang last month reiterated a pledge to implement the agreement that was inked in January, tensions have continued to escalate since then amid a standoff over Beijing’s move to tighten its grip on Hong Kong.
Beijing’s move eroded the risk-on sentiment that had been prevailing over markets. S&P 500 Index futures gave up gains to trade 0.6% lower, while U.S. 10-year bonds erased declines. The onshore yuan reversed its advance, while soybean futures in Chicago, which had been as much as 1% higher, were little changed.
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