Asia report: Markets rise as hopes for trade deal grow
Markets in Asia were mostly higher on Tuesday, led by some serious gains in Japan, as investors expressed further optimism over the prospect for a trade deal between the United States and China.
In Japan, the Nikkei 225 was up 1.76% at 23,251.99 on the country’s first session of the week after a holiday, as the yen weakened 0.22% against the dollar to last trade at JPY 108.82.
Of the major components on the benchmark index, automation specialist Fanuc was up 1.04%, fashion firm Fast Retailing added 1.15%, and technology conglomerate SoftBank Group was 2.43% higher.
Fujifilm was also a strong riser, adding 6.74% after it announced it would buy out its joint venture partner Xerox from the Fuji Xerox operation for $2.3bn.
The broader Topix index ended its session in positive territory in Tokyo, rising 1.66% to close at 1,694.16.
On the mainland, the Shanghai Composite was 0.54% firmer at 2,991.56, and the smaller, technology-heavy Shenzhen Composite also rose 0.54%, to close at 1,655.60.
In fresh data out of China, the unofficial Caixin/Market services purchasing managers’ index came in at 51.1 for October, marking its lowest level since February but still indicating some degree of expansion for the sector.
South Korea’s Kospi was ahead 0.58% at 2,142.64, while the Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong rose 0.49% to 27,683.40.
Both of the blue-chip technology stocks were in the green in Seoul, with Samsung Electronics up 0.76% and chipmaker SK Hynix ahead 0.47%.
The mood remained elevated on the trade front on Tuesday, following a strong showing on Wall Street overnight and as Chinese president Xi Jinping asked for “consideration and cooperation” in trying to resolve disputes between nations.
Xi did not specifically mention the US in his speech at the opening of the China International Import Expo, though there was little doubt he was referring to the ongoing trade war between the two economic superpowers.
The Financial Times also reported that Washington was considering rolling back some of the tariffs it introduced on Chinese imports on 1 September.
“If all of this is accurate, the US has blinked,” said Markets.com analyst Neil Wilson.
“There is a real mix of factors going on here - mainly to do with the presidential election next year. It seems that tariffs are hurting voters in some important states.
“And at a time of impeachment fears, Trump could do with a 'win' on trade soon.”
Oil prices were higher as the region went to bed, with Brent crude last up 0.96% at $62.73, and West Texas Intermediate ahead 0.84% at $57.02.
In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 managed gains of 0.15% to close its trading day at 6,697.10, as the Reserve Bank of Australia did as the market expected and stood pat on interest rates at its latest meeting.
“The board will continue to monitor developments, including in the labour market, and is prepared to ease monetary policy further if needed to support sustainable growth in the economy, full employment and the achievement of the inflation target over time,” said the central bank’s governor Philip Lowe following the decision announcement.
Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand’s S&P/NZX 50 was 0.4% firmer at 10,841.54, led higher by construction conglomerate Fletcher Building, which was ahead 3.2%.
Export firms and companies with exposure to China were also in the green after Wellington Zealand reached agreement with Beijing to upgrade the 11-year-old free trade agreement between the two countries.
Air New Zealand added 1.1%, medical equipment supplier Fisher & Paykel Healthcare grew 1.4%, and fisheries firm Sanford rose 1%.
Both of the down under dollars were weaker on the greenback, with the Aussie last ahead 0.52% at AUD 1.4451, and the Kiwi advancing 0.33% to NZD 1.5569.