Stocks buoyed by deal to avert US govt shutdown

An investor stands in front of an electronic board showing stock information at a brokerage house in Shanghai September 7, 2018. — Reuters pic
An investor stands in front of an electronic board showing stock information at a brokerage house in Shanghai September 7, 2018. — Reuters pic

TOKYO, Feb 12 — Asian shares gained today as investors hoped a new round of US- trade talks would help to resolve a dispute that has dented and some corporate earnings.

Market sentiment also got a boost on news US lawmakers had reached a tentative deal on border security funding that could help avert another partial government shutdown due to start on Saturday. Congressional aides, however, said it did not contain the US$5.7 billion (RM23.2 billion) President Donald Trump wants for a border wall.

S&P 500 e-mini futures were up nearly 0.5 per cent.

Spreadbetters expected European stocks to track Asia and open higher, with Britain’s FTSE gaining 0.25 percent and Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC each adding 0.5 per cent.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia- shares outside Japan edged up 0.3 per cent.

The Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.35 per cent, South Korea’s KOSPI climbed 0.6 per cent and Australian shares were up 0.3 per cent.

Japan’s Nikkei advanced 2.6 per cent after a market holiday yesterday, lifted by a weaker yen.

US and officials expressed hopes the new round of talks, which began in Beijing yesterday, would bring them closer to easing their months-long trade war.

Beijing and Washington are trying to hammer out a deal before a March 1 deadline, without which US tariffs on US$200 billion worth of Chinese imports are scheduled to increase to 25 per cent from 10 per cent.

“There will be no winner in a trade war. So at some point they will likely strike a deal,” said Mutsumi Kagawa, chief global strategist at Rakuten Securities in Tokyo.

The trade dispute has already started to impact global growth, hitting businesses confidence, activity and disrupting supply chains. The worry is that a protracted Sino-US tariff row could severely hurt corporate earnings globally.

Analysts are now expecting US corporate earnings for the current quarter to drop 0.2 per cent from last year, which would be the first contraction since the second quarter of 2016.

In the currency market, the dollar held firm, having gained for eight straight sessions against a basket of six major currencies until yesterday, its longest rally in two years.

Although the Federal Reserve’s dovish turn dented the dollar earlier this year, some analysts noted the US currency still has the highest yield among major peers and that the Fed continues to shrink its balance sheet.

“We see the dollar’s strength essentially stemming from the Fed’s balance sheet reduction,” said Makoto Noji, chief currency and foreign strategist at SMBC Nikko Securities.

Growing evidence of a loss of momentum in the global economy has also lifted the US currency, most recently led by the European Commission’s downgrade of growth in Europe, making the dollar a better investment option by default.

The dollar index rose to its highest in almost three months, at 97.123, yesterday. It last stood at 97.055.

In contrast, the euro dropped to as low as US$1.1267, its weakest in 2-1/2 months, and last traded at US$1.1277.

The dollar popped up to a six-week high of ¥110.65.

Oil prices ticked up after falls yesterday as traders weighed support from OPEC-led supply restraint and a slowdown in the global economy.

US crude futures traded at US$52.68 per barrel, up 0.5 per cent. crude rose 0.6 per cent to US$61.89 per barrel. — Reuters

Source: The Malay Mail Online

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