Asian shares up as 'phase one' trade deal boosts confidence

Reuters SHANGHAI | Updated on December 16, 2019

Investors welcome US-China trade deal but await details

Asian shares moved higher on Monday as investors welcomed a trade agreement between Beijing and Washington over the weekend, but enthusiasm was capped by lingering scepticism about the deal and ongoing relations between China and the United States.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer on Sunday said a deal was “totally done”, notwithstanding some needed revisions, and would nearly double U.S. exports to China over the next two years.

That helped push the MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan, which had touched its highest level since April 24 on Friday, up 0.27%.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 led the way as it jumped 1.24%, while shares in Taiwan and South Korea added about 0.1%.

But Chinese investors had a more tepid reaction, pulling the benchmark Shanghai Composite index down 0.16% as investors took profits following a 1.8% gain on Friday.

The small decline came despite data showing the country's industrial output growth and retail sales jumped more than expected in November.

Japan's Nikkei 225 also succumbed to profit-taking, easing 0.14% after surging 2.55% to a 14-month closing high on Friday.

The “phase one” agreement suspended a threatened round of U.S. tariffs on a $160 billion list of Chinese imports that was scheduled to take effect on Sunday. The United States also agreed to halve the tariff rate, to 7.5%, on $120 billion worth of Chinese goods.

Ryan Felsman, senior economist at CommSec in Sydney, said the deal was a positive factor in the market, but investors awaited further details. The reduction in U.S. tariffs may have also disappointed some investors looking for more aggressive action, he added.

“Certainly there were expectations perhaps that the rollback would be more significant than just 50%,” he said.

The 17-month-old trade dispute has between the world's two largest economies has roiled financial markets and taken a toll on world economic growth.

“The announcement is a step in the right direction for the two nations, but does not completely reduce the chances of trade disputes between the two nations in the year,” ANZ analysts said in a morning note.

U.S. shares had struck a cautious note on Friday, paring intial gains to end barely higher as weary investors awaited signs of a concrete deal.

However, the news of a deal was still enough to send the S&P 500 to a record closing high of 3,168.8, up 0.01%. The Nasdaq Composite added 0.2% to end at 8,734.88, also a record, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.01% to 28,135.38.

U.S. Treasury yields moved higher on Monday, reflecting a more positive mood. Benchmark 10-year Treasury notes rose to 1.84% compared with its U.S. close of 1.821% on Friday and the two-year yield touched 1.6201% compared with a U.S. close of 1.604%.

The dollar was flat against the yen at 109.36 and the euro was up 0.07% at $1.1128. Sterling, which jumped last week after the UK general election produced a strong Conservative majority, gained 0.29% to $1.3363.

The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six major rivals, was down 0.07% at 97.108.


Oil prices, which had risen on Friday following the deal, cooled in early Asian trade on Monday. Brent crude shed 0.29% to $65.03 per barrel, and U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude was down 0.33% at $59.87 per barrel.

Spot gold prices fell 0.09%, with the precious metal trading hands at $1,474.19 per ounce. (Reporting by Andrew Galbraith; Editing by Sam Holmes and Lincoln Feast.)

Published on December 16, 2019

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