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Asian Shares Mostly Higher In Muted Reaction To Trade Deal

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Asian stocks rose broadly on Thursday, though overall gains remained limited as market reaction appeared muted to the signing of a partial trade deal between the United States and China.

Chinese stocks slipped and the yuan held steady as the U.S.-China trade deal left numerous thorny issues unresolved.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index dropped 15.96 points, or 0.5 percent, to 3,074.08, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rose 109.45 points, or 0.4 percent, to 28,883.04.

Japanese shares ended marginally higher after the release of upbeat core machinery orders data. The Nikkei 225 Index edged up 16.55 points, 0.1 percent, to close at 23,933.13, while the broader Topix closed 0.1 percent lower at 1,728.72.

Core machine orders in Japan jumped a seasonally adjusted 18.0 percent sequentially in November, the Cabinet Office said, coming in at 942.7 billion yen. That blew past expectations for an increase of 2.9 percent following the 6.0 percent slide in October.

On a yearly basis, core machine orders climbed 5.3 percent - again exceeding expectations for a decline of 5.3 percent following the 6.1 percent drop in the previous month.

Uniqlo-operator Fast Retailing rose 1.4 percent, while mobile carrier SoftBank Group declined 2.2 percent.

Sports shoe maker Asics rallied 2.5 percent amid reports Nike's acclaimed running shoes may be banned from competition by World Athletics.

Australian markets hit fresh record highs as the U.S. and China signed a long-awaited preliminary trade deal. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index climbed 47.00 points, or 0.7 percent, to 7,041.80, while the broader All Ordinaries Index ended up 45.10 points, or 0.6 percent, to 7,158.60.

The big four banks rose between 0.7 percent and 1 percent. Oil & gas explorer Woodside Petroleum gained 0.6 percent after it posted a nearly 7 percent increase in fourth quarter production and forecast higher output for fiscal 2020.

Gold miner Newcrest Mining rose over 1 percent and Northern Star Resources added 0.3 percent, benefiting from firm bullion prices.

Healthcare stocks such as CSL and Cochlear rose over 1 percent, while energy stocks closed on a mixed note.

Seoul stocks ended higher, led by technology companies and automakers. The benchmark Kospi climbed 17.07 points, or 0.8 percent, to 2,248.05.

Samsung Electronics jumped 2.9 percent and SK Hynix added 1 percent. Hyundai Motor rallied 3 percent after saying it aims to sell 10,100 units of the hydrogen-powered sport utility vehicle Nexo in Korea this year.

New Zealand shares rose, with the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 Index ending up 61.19 points, or 0.5 percent, at 11,737.86. Energy retailer Contact Energy and dairy firm a2 Milk Company were among the top gainers.

U.S. stocks ended off their day's highs on Wednesday as Target Corp. reported disappointing holiday sales and President Donald Trump signed an initial trade deal with China.

Trump said the deal calls for China to purchase $200 billion worth of U.S. goods over the next two years, including up to $50 billion worth of agricultural products.

The deal also purportedly addresses issues such as intellectual property theft, forced technology transfers and currency manipulation by China.

In exchange, the U.S. will scrap a new round of tariffs and cut tariffs on approximately $120 billion worth of Chinese goods in half to 7.5 percent.

Trump noted a 25 percent tariff on $250 billion worth of Chinese imports will remain in place in order to give the U.S. leverage as the two countries enter into phase two negotiations.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.3 percent and the S&P 500 gained 0.2 percent to hit fresh record closing highs, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index finished marginally higher.

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