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WASHINGTON, Feb 19 — US-China trade talks aimed at ending a damaging tariff war will resume from today in Washington, the White House has announced. The last set of talks ended Friday in Beijing with no deal, though US President Donald Trump said…
HONG KONG: Asian markets mostly rose Tuesday with investors cautiously optimistic that China and the US can reach a deal ending their trade war as the two sides prepare to resume talks this week.
With New York closed for a public holiday there were few catalysts to drive buying, though the release of Federal Reserve minutes on Wednesday will be pored over for an idea of the bank’s interest rate plans.
Top-level officials from the world’s two biggest economies will reconvene in Washington after a series of negotiations in Beijing last week, with the US side telling Donald Trump they had been “very productive”.
The positive tone from the diplomats, and the president’s indication he could extend a deadline for agreement, boosted regional markets Monday, extending a 2019 rally fuelled by optimism of an end to the nearly year-long tariffs spat.
Shanghai added 0.3%, having piled on more than two percent Monday, while Hong Kong rose 0.2% and Tokyo finished the morning 0.1% higher.
Sydney gained 0.5%, Singapore put on 0.3% and Taipei 0.2%, with Seoul flat and Wellington marginally lower.
Britain’s Labour strife
However, OANDA senior market analyst Jeffrey Halley warned of trouble ahead if Chinese and US officials do not agree a deal.
“The rallies (Monday) were impressive given the talks ended last week without any concrete results and have yet to even recommence in Washington this week due to the US public holiday,“ he said.
“Without sounding like a damp squib, there is now a vast amount of ‘optimism’ baked into currency, stock and energy market prices globally and precisely zero concrete detail. The unwind, should no deal be struck, could be very ugly.”
Oil prices were mixed after rallying Monday on trade talks hope and signs that OPEC and other key producers are narrowing output.
“Saudi Arabia seems willing to do whatever is necessary to reach levels of US$80 (RM327) a barrel, and judging by the price reaction, they’re on track,“ said Eugen Weinberg, head of commodities research at Commerzbank AG.
“Even rather bearish factors, like a stronger-than-expected rise in US oil production, does not seem to derail the price recovery.”
On currency markets the pound was down, with uncertainty fanned by news that seven pro-remain MPs had split from Britain’s opposition Labour Party over its handling of Brexit and a row over antisemitism.
The move “looks awfully like a bungled mess of the creation of a new party, which we think is more likely to be pound-negative… by giving Brexit a less effective opposition”, said Peter Chatwell, head of European rates strategy at Mizuho International, told Bloomberg News.
He added that it left both main parties “with clear pro-Brexit mandates”. — AFP
SYDNEY: Australian vitamin maker Blackmores Ltd cautioned that weak sales in China, its biggest export market, will drag on its net profit in second half of the year, driving down its shares the most since the company listed three decades ago.
The vitamin maker, which has benefited from exploding Chinese demand for Australian health products, said sales to the mainland fell more than a tenth in the six months to December, and the pattern was continuing partly due to “a general softening of consumer sentiment”.
Full-year revenue is expected to be “modest”, it warned, even as the beachside Sydney-based company turned in a record first-half net profit. Blackmores said it was reviewing its operations in China, without elaborating.
The warning sent Blackmores shares down as much as a third, their biggest percentage drop since 1985. The stock hit its lowest intraday level since 2015 as investors rethought the underlying value of the company’s main growth prospect.
By midsession the shares were down 23%, while the broader market was up 0.4%.
Blackmores’ dour outlook underlines the precarious position of companies around the world that have staked their future on insatiable Chinese consumer appetite.
In January, computer maker Apple Inc rattled global markets as it issued a surprise revenue warning based citing weaker demand for its iPhones in China.
That is all against a backdrop of bitter trade tensions between the United States and China which have led to tougher conditions for exporters.
“You’ve got a property market over there that’s very weak, you’ve got all these trade tensions, you’ve got the lowest economic growth in 20 years in China (but) for Blackmores that space was supposed to be growing no matter what,“ said Steve Johnson, chief investment officer at Forager Funds Management.
“They’re almost certainly buying more of that type of product, it’s just that when the demand increases so does the competitive response.”
Blackmores reported a net profit of AUS$34.3 million (US$24.46 million/RM100 million) for the six months to Dec 31, up 0.4% from the previous corresponding period. Half-year revenue from ordinary activities rose about 11% to AUS$319.4 million, which the company said was its best-ever revenue figure for the period. — Reuters