Asia stocks edge up, investors cautious on US-China trade talks

A visitor is seen as market prices are reflected in a glass window at the Tokyo Stock Exchange February 6, 2018. — Reuters pic
A visitor is seen as market prices are reflected in a glass window at the Tokyo Stock Exchange February 6, 2018. — Reuters pic

TOKYO, May 18 — Asian stocks edged up today as investors kept a cautious watch on developments in US-China trade negotiations, while the US dollar was perched near a five-month peak against a basket of currencies thanks to the benchmark US Treasury yield topping a seven-year high.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was 0.05 per cent higher. The index was headed for a 1 per cent loss this week.

Japan's Nikkei rose 0.2 per cent, South Korea's Kospi was up 0.25 per cent and Australian stocks edged up 0.05 per cent.

Wall Street ended slightly lower yesterday as investors grappled with US-China trade tensions after US President Donald Trump said that China "has become very spoiled on trade."

But helping ease some of the tension, Beijing has offered President Trump a package of proposed purchases of American goods and other measures aimed at reducing the US trade deficit with China by some US$200 billion a year, US officials familiar with the proposal said.

A second round of talks between senior Trump administration officials and their Chinese counterparts started yesterday, focused on cutting China's US trade surplus and improving intellectual property protections.

“President Trump does not do the actual trade negotiations, which are done by officials from both sides,” said Kota Hirayama, senior emerging markets economist at SMBC Nikko Securities in Tokyo.

“China should be well accustomed to Trump's ways by now. Judging from how the talks are proceeding so far, there is a greater chance of the negotiations ending in some sort of a compromise instead of falling through, and such an outcome would bode well for risk sentiment,” he said.

In currencies, the US dollar index against a basket of six major currencies was steady at 93.482 after rising to a five-month peak of 93.632 yesterday.

The index has gained about 1 per cent this week, buoyed by a surge in Treasury yields.

The euro was up 0.05 per cent at US$1.1800, but not far off a five-month trough of US$1.1763 brushed on Wednesday. The currency has fallen nearly 1.2 per cent this week, largely pressured by concerns about Italian political uncertainty.

The US dollar extended an overnight rally and rose to 110.870 yen, its highest since late January. The greenback has gained nearly 1.4 per cent against its Japanese peer this week.

In commodities, Brent crude futures stood little changed at US$79.42 (RM314.53) a barrel after rising to US$80.50 yesterday, their highest since November 2014.

Brent has risen 3 per cent this week and headed for the sixth week of gains.

A rapid slide in oil supply from Venezuela, concern that US sanctions will disrupt exports from Iran, and falling global inventories have all combined to push oil prices up nearly 20 per cent in 2018.

The 10-year US Treasury note yield stood near a seven-year high of 3.122 per cent marked yesterday.

Inflation concerns, strong US economic indicators and worries over increasing debt supply have pushed Treasury yields higher this week. — Reuters

Related Articles

Up Next

Loading...