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Chinese President Xi Jinping stressed the need to avoid conflict with North Korea in his second phone call with President Trump on Wednesday as investors sought safe haven assets amid rising geopolitical tensions.

State broadcaster CCTV reported Mr Xi emphasised China would “stick to realising the goal of peninsula denuclearisation and maintain the peninsula’s peace and stability”. The Chinese president, who last week met Mr Trump in Florida, also said countries should seek a political solution on Syria and called for the UN Security Council to speak “with one voice” on the issue.

The Japanese yen strengthened 1 per cent to ¥109.46 per dollar, its highest since November 17, while gold was at a five-month high at $1275.68 per ounce.

A stronger yen dragged on Japanese equities with the Topix index falling 1.1 per cent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 slipped 0.2 per cent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was down 0.1 per cent. The Shanghai Composite index and Shenzhen Composite index fell 0.3 and 0.2 per cent respectively.

Futures tip the FTSE 100 to open flat while the S&P 500 is expected to open 0.1 per cent lower in New York.

The corporate calendar kicks off the morning at 07.00 (London time) with Tesco‘s results for the year to February, interim results from WHSmith, a first quarter trading update from PageGroup, Countryside Properties‘ half year trading update and Dunelm’s third quarter trading update.

The economic calendar is lighter in comparison.

  • 08.00: Spain consumer inflation
  • 11.00: Portugal consumer inflation
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