Asian markets rise with eyes on trade talks

12 August, 2020 12:00 AM printer

HONG KONG: Most Asian markets extended gains Tuesday as concerns about the US-China trade pact eased, while investors remain optimistic that lawmakers in Washington will hammer out a new stimulus for the crippled American economy despite talks struggling.

There was also some relief that China did not include any members of Donald Trump’s administration in a group of 11 Americans hit with sanctions, in retaliation to a similar US move last week linked to the Hong Kong row, report agencies.

And while Europe battles a worrying pick-up in coronavirus cases after weeks of lockdown easing, there are signs the virus is slowing in major states including New York and Texas, and World Health Organization boss Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said it was “never too late to turn the outbreak around”.

As the pandemic hustles economies around the world, the US-China stand-off has been a major headache, with the two sides butting heads on several issues that have fanned worries they could renew their damaging trade war.

However, there is some confidence they will stick to their commitments after talks at the weekend to review their January tariffs pact.

Observers have pointed out that Beijing has failed to buy certain products owing to restrictions caused by the coronavirus, but the head of the central People’s Bank of China told state media the country would abide by the agreement despite tensions.

“No matter how the international situation changes, the most important thing is to get our own things done and to firmly deepen financial reform and opening-up,” Yi Gang told the Xinhua news agency.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg News reported that China would increase buying of soybeans from the US and ditch expensive Brazilian purchases.

“The strong sense is that the Trump administration won’t want to jeopardise the deal this side of the election for fear of alienating the important midwest farming constituency,” said Ray Attrill at National Australia Bank.

Hong Kong rose more than two percent, with Macau casinos rallying on news that China would resume issuing tourist visas to Macau, reopening a crucial revenue stream for resorts that have been battered by a crash in tourist numbers.

Tokyo jumped 1.9 percent as investors returned from a long weekend to play catch-up with Monday’s advances, while Seoul and Bangkok each piled on more than one percent. Sydney, Mumbai, Jakarta and Manila were all in the green.

But Shanghai dropped more than one percent and Singapore fell 0.8 percent after data showing the city’s economy contracted more than first thought in the second quarter. Wellington and Taipei were also down.


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