World stock markets fell Monday after G20 finance ministers failed to renew an anti-protectionist pledge, in the face of Donald Trump's "America First" push. Asia and Europe also beat a retreat as investors took profits from last week's bumper gains and dumped risky equities for safer assets.
Over the weekend, in an early taste of what Donald Trump's presidency spells for the world, the G20 failed to get Washington to sign off on a pledge to reject protectionism in a closing statement. Commitments of support to the existing multilateral trade system, including the World Trade Organization (WTO), were also conspicuously missing from the final communique from the meeting of finance ministers from the G20 group of developed and emerging nations in the German spa town of Baden-Baden.
"The European equity markets started the week on a heavy risk-off sentiment after the G20 communique explicitly reflected the US intentions to establish trade protectionist measures," said London Capital Group analyst Ipek Ozkardeskaya. The move follows Trump's warnings to throw up levies and revise global agreements he says are unfair to the United States.
Citi analyst Ebrahim Rahbari argued in a note to clients that rising protectionism posed a key risk to the world economy. In London, Vodafone shares flatlined after the British mobile phone giant revealed it will merge its Indian unit with Idea Cellular to create India's largest telecoms operator. In Mumbai, Idea Cellular reversed an early rally to sink seven percent.