Asian markets, currencies boosted by trade optimism

21-Feb-2019 Intellasia | AFP | 6:00 AM Print This Post

Growing optimism that China and the United States will reach a trade deal lifted most Asian equities Wednesday while the positive sentiment also provided support to regional currencies against the safe-bet dollar.

The yuan was among the big gainers following a report that the US has called on China to stabilise the unit as part of any agreement between the world’s top economic powers.

Wall Street returned from a long weekend to provide a healthy lead as US President Donald Trump said trade talkswhich resumed in Washington Tuesdaywere “going very well” but were “very complex”.

He also indicated he could put back the March 1 deadline for talks to be concludedwhen US tariffs on Chinese goods are due to more than doublesaying it is “not a magical date”.

Observers say that while there are no details about the negotiations the fact they are still talking and China appeared responsive to the call for yuan stability was good news.

Hong Kong rose one percent while Shanghai ended up 0.2 percent and Tokyo closed 0.6 percent higher.

Seoul, Taipei and Manila each climbed more than one percent, Singapore put on 0.4 percent and Wellington 0.3 percent. But Sydney slipped 0.2 percent.

The upbeat mood on trading floors gave investors confidence to buy higher-risk currencies, pushing the South African rand around one percent higher and Australia’s dollar up 0.7 percent. The yuan also climbed 0.7 percent.

The pound held its gains after strong British jobs and wages data, while it was also getting support from hopes that prime minister Theresa May could win changes to her Brexit deal with the European Union as she heads to Brussels later in the day.

While EU leaders have said they are not willing to bend on the agreement, analysts say there could be some movement that would help her push it through parliament and avoid a messy divorce that could hammer the British economy.

“The EU is showing some possible concessions about the timing of the exit, as (European Commission chief) Jean-Claude Juncker has said a delay beyond the European parliamentary elections in May would not be opposed, but the UK has to request it, which they have not done,” said Alfonso Esparza, senior market analyst at OANDA.

In early trade London rose 0.3 percent, Paris gained 0.2 percent and Frankfurt added 0.4 percent.

– Key figures around 0810 GMT –

TokyoNikkei 225: UP 0.6 percent at 21,431.49 (close)

Hong KongHang Seng: UP 1.0 percent at 28,514.05 (close)

ShanghaiComposite: UP 0.2 percent at 2,761.22 (close)

LondonFTSE 100: UP 0.3 percent at 7,200.85

euro/dollar: UP at $1.1351 from $1.1342 at 2130 GMT

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3058 from $1.3062

Dollar/yen: UP at 110.87 yen from 110.58 yen

OilWest Texas Intermediate: UP seven cents at $56.16 per barrel

OilBrent Crude: DOWN eight cents at $66.38 per barrel

New YorkDOW: FLAT at 25,891.32 (close)–finance.html


Category: FinanceAsia

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