Most Asian markets extended gains yesterday 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.
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 Organisation 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 2%, 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% as investors returned from a long weekend to play catch-up with Monday’s advances, while Seoul and Bangkok each piled on more than 1%. Sydney, Mumbai, Jakarta and Manila were all in the green.
But Shanghai dropped more than 1% and Singapore fell 0.8% after data showing the city’s economy contracted more than first thought in the second quarter. Wellington and Taipei were also down.
In Hong Kong, Next Digital, the media company owned by Jimmy Lai, surged 668% at one point, a day after rocketing 183%, thanks to pro-democracy activists buying it following the anti-China tycoon’s arrest under a new security law.
The stock, which ended Friday at HK$0.09, had soared more than 2,0000% to HK$1.96 at its Tuesday peak, before easing back to end at HK$1.10.
US lawmakers remain deadlocked in their pursuit of a new stimulus, though observers say that with an election around the corner, Democrats and Republicans will likely reach a deal.
Trump’s executive orders at the weekend deferring payroll taxes, providing $400 in weekly unemployment benefits and making it harder to evict people eased immediate concerns, though markets say a full deal is key.
The US Chamber of Commerce said the orders were “no substitute for Congressional action”. A Democrat decision to lower its proposal to $2tn from a previous $3.5tn indicated the two sides were going in the right direction, though it is still twice the size of the Republican offer.
“The pressure is on the Democrats to offer a meaningful concession and likely a deal will emerge in the $1.5-2.0tn area,” said OANDA’s Edward Moya.
London, Paris and Frankfurt all rallied more than 1% in early trade.
In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 closed up 1.9% to 22,750.24 points; Hong Kong — Hang Seng ended up 2.1% to 24,890.68 points and Shanghai — Composite closed down 1.2% to 3,340.29 points yesterday.
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