Wall Street opens mixed as Ukraine peace talks begin; US-listed Chinese stocks see steep selloff


Wall Street’s main indexes opened mixed on March 14 as investors focused on Russia-Ukraine peace talks, while bank stocks gained ahead of a Federal Reserve meeting this week where it is widely expected to raise interest rates.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 56.18 points, or 0.17 percent, at the open to 33,000.37.

The S&P 500 opened lower by 1.56 points, or 0.04 percent, at 4,202.75, while the Nasdaq Composite dropped 48.68 points, or 0.38 percent, to 12,795.12 at the opening bell.

Also, the US-listed Chinese stocks resumed a steep selloff as concerns about Beijing’s close relationship with Moscow added to losses spurred by its crackdown on tech giants and the growing risk of US delistings, Bloomberg has reported.

The Nasdaq Golden Dragon China Index fell as much as 13 percent, adding to last week’s 18 percent rout.

E-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd and rival JD.com Inc dropped at least 10 percent each. Pinduoduo Inc tumbled as much as 19 percent while Baidu Inc fell 14 percent. Alibaba has sunk more than 30 percent this year, a lowest level since July 2016.

This fall was after a US official had claimed that Russia asked China for military equipment to use in its invasion of Ukraine.

China on Monday termed the US allegations as “malicious” and accused America of spreading “disinformation” against it over the Ukraine issue. Asked about reports quoting US officials that Russia has asked China for military equipment to be used in Ukraine, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a media briefing that Beijing has been playing a constructive role in promoting peace talks. The US has been constantly spreading disinformation targeting China recently over the Ukraine issue, this is malicious,” he said.

Another negative factor was the threat of a hefty fine on Chinese technology giant Tencent Holdings Ltd. The company is facing a potential fine, which could be at least hundreds of millions of yuan, for violating some central bank regulations on its WeChat Pay mobile network, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday, citing people familiar with the matter.

Financial regulators recently found that WeChat Pay had broken China’s anti-money-laundering rules and had lapses in compliance with “know your customer” and “know your business” regulations, the Journal said.

Last week, the risk of Chinese firms delisting from the US, together with added regulatory concerns and the exclusion of a company from a Norwegian sovereign wealth fund, sparked a rout in the Golden Dragon Index, which tracks American depository receipts of Chinese firms. The gauge fell 18 percent last week to close at the lowest level since September 2015.