Asian shares advance as investors await US-China trade moves

BANGKOK (AP) – Shares were mostly higher in Asia yesterday after the Dow Jones Industrial Average notched another record high.

Investors were awaiting developments on the China-United States (US) trade front after US President Donald Trump cast doubts over a Chinese official’s comments on gradually rolling back tariffs as negotiations progress.

The next hints on the status of talks between Beijing and Washington over their tariff war came later in the day, when Trump gave a speech on trade and economic policy at the Economic Club of New York.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 index gained 0.8 per cent to 23,520.01, while the Hang Seng in Hong Kong added 0.4 per cent to 27,040.21. South Korea’s Kospi advanced 0.8 per cent to 2,140.92.

The Shanghai Composite index picked up 0.2 per cent to 2,914.82 while Australia’s S&P ASX/200 shed 0.3 per cent to 6,753.00. Shares rose in Taiwan and most of Southeast Asia.

Hong Kong shares bounced back from Monday’s sell-off, though protesters again disrupted the morning commute yesterday.

Investors monitor stock prices at a brokerage in Beijing. Shares were mixed in Asia as investors awaited cues on trade talks between China and the US. PHOTO: AP

The city has been wracked by protests for more than five months and tensions escalated on Monday as violence grew more extreme. After a police officer drew his gun during a struggle with protesters, shooting one in the abdomen. In another neighborhood, a person was set on fire after an apparent argument. The Hong Kong hospital authority said both were in critical condition. Video of another incident showed a policeman on a motorcycle riding through a group of protesters in an apparent attempt to disperse them. In comments suggesting harsher legal and police measures may be planned, Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam pledged to “spare no effort” to halt the protests.

Overnight, US stocks mostly fell after President Trump said over the weekend that reports about US willingness to lift tariffs were “incorrect,” only two days after a Chinese official said both sides agreed to rollbacks if talks progress.

Stocks dropped as soon as trading began on Monday, and the S&P 500 lost as much as 0.6 per cent from its record level, though indexes pared their losses as the day progressed.

The S&P 500 lost 0.2 per cent to 3,087.01 and the Nasdaq composite slipped 0.1 per cent, to 8,464.28.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was an outlier and eked out another record, rising less than 0.1 per cent to 27,691.49.

A major factor in the advance was Boeing, whose shares soared 4.5 per cent after the aircraft maker said it hopes to resume deliveries of its 737 Max jet next month. Bond markets were closed in observance of Veterans Day. Low interest rates have helped drive the stock market’s recent rally. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell will give testimony to Congress about the economy. Most investors expect the Fed to keep interest rates on hold for now after cutting them three times since the summer.

Later this week, the Labour Department will also give updates on inflation at both the consumer and wholesale levels. On Friday, economists expect a government report to show that retail sales returned to growth in October. That would suggest robust consumer spending is helping to compensate for weaker manufacturing due to the trade war.

Earnings season is close to complete, and nearly 90 per cent of the companies in the S&P 500 have reported their profits for the July-through-September quarter, according to FactSet. Results have been weak due in part to the slowing global economy, with earnings per share down 2.4 per cent from a year earlier, not as bad as analysts had forecast.

Benchmark crude oil rose 20 cents to USD57.06 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It lost 38 cents to settle at USD56.86 a barrel on Monday. Brent crude oil, the international standard, added 19 cents to USD62.37. It fell 33 cents to USD62.18 a barrel in London.

The dollar rose to JPY109.25 from JPY109.06 on Monday. The euro slipped to USD1.1030 from USD1.1034.