Asian equity markets rise, but US stimulus impasse drags on
August 14 2020 09:52 PM
Bull statues displayed outside the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. The Hang Seng closed up 0.2% to 25,284.
Bull statues displayed outside the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. The Hang Seng closed up 0.2% to 25,284.88 points yesterday.

AFP/ Hong Kong

Stock markets were mixed yesterday following a broadly healthy week but investors are increasingly worried about the stalemate in Washington over a new stimulus for the world’s top economy.
Hopes that Democrats and Republicans would cast aside their mutual animosity to stump up much-needed cash for struggling Americans have been key to supporting equities for weeks.
But they were dealt a blow on Thursday when senators broke up for a summer recess, saying they would not return until early next month, while both sides continued to trade accusations over who was to blame for the impasse.
Democrats have called on Republicans and the White House to double their $1tn offer, having reduced their own proposal to $2tn from an initial $3.5tn.
Senator Leader Mitch McConnell accused his opponents of pushing for several socialist measures to be introduced into the new bill, describing their tactics as “throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks”. Still, the expectation remains that an agreement will at some point be found, particularly with an election just over two months away and millions of Americans in financial crisis.
“Congress’ political grandstanding delay is posing some risk for the global recovery,” said Stephen Innes at AxiCorp.
“Still, there is no chance of this deal not going through...It is a matter of whether it is $1.5tn or $2tn, where bigger would be better.”
Tokyo closed 0.2% higher and Shanghai ended more than 1% up, with Hong Kong edging up 0.2%. Sydney rose 0.6% and Mumbai put on 0.5%, while Taipei and Jakarta were also in positive territory.
But Seoul fell more than 1%, Manila eased 0.3% and Bangkok shed 0.6%. London, Paris and Frankfurt all fell in early business.
— China consumers reluctant — Traders had a weak lead from Wall Street, where the stimulus struggle trumped better-than-expected data showing fewer than a million people claimed jobless benefits last week for the first time since the pandemic struck in March.
“US jobless (figures) have begun to decline again, suggesting the US labour market is starting to improve, notwithstanding the economic impact from the containment measures introduced to combat the Covid-19 outbreak,” said Rodrigo Catril at National Australia Bank.
But he warned: “Ironically, an improving labour market may ease the pressure on US politicians to come up with a new stimulus plan.”
Michael Hewson of CMC Markets added: “The robustness of recent economic data has been a nice positive, helping to push US yields up on the day, and even higher on the week, yet there is this continued nagging doubt that US politicians will overplay their hand.
“By the time they do get their act together, the US economy could suffer significant damage.” In a sign of the battle governments could have in rebooting their economies, data out of China showed consumers were still reluctant to go out spending, with retail sales falling last month despite forecasts of a small increase.
While the drop was shallower than in June, Innes said it showed that it was “going to take more than stimulus and deep discounts on luxury products to get people shopping again”. At the same time, industrial production continued to grow, suggesting the economy’s recovery is being supported by the manufacturing sector.
Investors will be keeping a close eye on talks at the weekend between China and the US that will review the trade pact signed in January, though expectations are for the deal to be kept in place, despite increasing tensions between Washington and Beijing.
In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 closed up 0.2% to 23,289.36 points; Hong Kong Hang Seng ended up 0.2% to 25,284.88 points and Shanghai Composite closed up 1.2% to 3,360.10 points yesterday.

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