US businesses have warned of a risk of severe damage from the tariffs on steel and aluminium announced by the Trump administration on Thursday and the retaliatory measures launched by other countries. 

Business groups said the decision to impose tariffs on imports from US allies including Canada and the EU could disrupt the global trading system, curtail investment and lead to job cuts. The US said on Thursday it would levy tariffs of 25 per cent on steel and 10 per cent on aluminium imported from the EU, Canada and Mexico

In a statement that was typical of the alarmed reaction, the Coalition of American Metal Manufacturers and Users said “restricting the raw material supply in the US and imposing tariffs on imports from our closest trading partners places American manufacturers directly in harm’s way”.

Markets in Asia Pacific were choppy on Friday following the tariff announcement with the Hang Seng index off 0.3 per cent in afternoon trading while the S&P/ASX 200 slipped 0.4 per cent and the Topix edged up 0.2 per cent. 

Futures tip the FTSE 100 to open 0.2 per cent higher while the S&P 500 is set to gain 0.1 per cent. 

The economic calendar has a long list to get through before the weekend (all times London):

  • 07.00: Czech Republic Q1 gross domestic product 
  • 08.15: Spain manufacturing purchasing managers’ index
  • 08.30: Switzerland manufacturing PMI
  • 08.30: Czech republic manufacturing PMI
  • 08.45: Italy manufacturing PMI
  • 08.50: France manufacturing PMI
  • 08.55: Germany manufacturing PMI
  • 09.00: Italy Q1 GDP
  • 09.00: eurozone manufacturing PMI
  • 09.30: UK manufacturing PMI
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