Hong Kong (AFP) – Most Asian markets rose Tuesday as investors were cheered by Donald Trump’s belief the US and China could reach a “great” trade deal, which helped ease concerns over a report he is preparing to lump tariffs on all Chinese goods.
Investors started the day on a nervous note after Bloomberg News said the White House is lining up fresh levies if talks between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping at a G20 meeting next month are unsuccessful.
It cited unnamed sources as saying a list is being drawn up for a December announcement to hit another $267 billion of goods with levies.
With $250 billion already being targeted, the move would mean all China’s shipments to the United States are taxed. Beijing has said in the past that it will retaliate against any measures, putting the world’s top two economies on course for an all-out trade war.
The story added to skittishness across trading floors, where investors are already fretting over a number of issues including geopolitical tensions, rising US interest rates, slowing growth, Brexit and Italy’s budget standoff with the EU.
However, in an interview aired later on Fox News Trump said that he thinks he can “make a great deal with China”, though he tempered this by saying Beijing was not yet ready.
Shanghai rebounded from early losses to end up one percent, with traders also welcoming a decision by authorities that will make it easier for firms to undertake share buybacks, giving them more scope to prevent sharp falls.
The yuan continued to struggle and hit a 10-year low, with analysts suggesting it could break the 7 to the dollar mark.
“The yuan’s move is in line with the degree of trade tension,” said Ben Kwong, executive director at KGI Asia. “If there’s no more hope for any resolution, then the yuan weakness will continue to be a trend.”
– ‘Uncertain over dispute’ –
Tokyo closed 1.5 percent higher thanks to a weaker yen, while Sydney jumped 1.3 percent and Seoul rallied 0.9 percent. Wellington, Taipei, Jakarta and Bangkok also posted healthy gains.
However, Hong Kong failed to maintain an afternoon rally and was 0.7 percent lower in the afternoon while Singapore shed 0.4 percent.
“People are still very uncertain about the dispute over trade,” Castor Pang, head of research at Core Pacific-Yamaichi International HK, told Bloomberg News.
“Worries that the US may levy more tax on Chinese imports are hurting confidence. People were expecting that there could be some solutions in November during the G20 meeting, but now it seems very uncertain.”
Wall Street provided another negative lead, with the S&P 500 and Dow now suffering similar selling pressure to other global markets, having held up for most of the year and even chalking up several record highs as early as this month.
The dollar was up against most other currencies, with the euro flat following Monday’s losses that came after German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she will not seek re-election in 2021.
The announcement came after her fragile coalition government suffered heavy losses in a key regional election and a junior partner threatened to quit, which would likely spark a fresh general election.
Adding to euro weakness is Italy’s row with Brussels over its wallet-busting budget, which EU officials says breaks the bloc’s finance rules, while officials seem no closer to agreeing a deal with Britain over its exit with a deadline approaching.
– Key figures around 0710 GMT –
Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 1.5 percent at 21,457.29 (close)
Hong Kong – Hang Seng: DOWN 0.7 percent at 24,644.40
Shanghai – Composite: DOWN 1.0 percent at 2,568.05 (close)
Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1388 from $1.1384 at 2050 GMT
Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2806 from $1.2803
Dollar/yen: UP at 112.72 from 112.32 yen
Oil – West Texas Intermediate: UP 15 cents at $67.19 per barrel
Oil – Brent Crude: DOWN four cents at $77.30 per barrel
New York – Dow: DOWN 1.0 percent at 24,442.92 (close)
London – FTSE 100: UP 1.3 percent at 7,026.32 (close)