World shares mixed as US, China begin talks on tariffs war

SINGAPORE (AP) — European shares were higher yesterday after the United States (US) and China kicked off two days of trade talks in Beijing. The aim is to forestall further tariff hikes in a bruising dispute over Beijing’s technology policies.

In Europe, France’s CAC 40 jumped 0.6 per cent to 5,104.69 and Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 0.3 per cent to 7,215.58. Germany’s DAX added 0.3 per cent to 11,201.64, even as the country reported that it narrowly avoided a recession in the fourth quarter with zero growth.

Wall Street was set for gains at the open. The future contract for the S&P 500 index rose 0.3 per cent to 2,756.80, while that for the Dow Jones Industrial Average also climbed 0.3 per cent, to 25,571.00.

Barring a breakthrough, the US is set to raise tariffs on USD200 billion in Chinese goods on March 2. President Donald Trump has hinted that he might refrain from that increase if negotiations make enough progress.

On Wednesday, Trump told reporters discussions were “going along very well”. A Bloomberg report, which cited unnamed people familiar with the matter, said Trump was mulling a 60-day extension.

People walk past an electronic board showing the Hong Kong share index outside a bank. – AP

“With the earnings season almost coming to an end, asset prices will begin to fluctuate on daily news headlines. So far, it seems we have more positive than negative news which may continue to support equities,” Hussein Sayed, Chief Market Strategist at FXTM, said in a commentary.

Yesterday, China said its exports expanded 9.1 per cent in January from a year earlier to USD217.6 billion, reversing a decline in December. But its exports to the United States fell 2.4 per cent to USD36.4 billion and imports from the US plunged 41.2 per cent to USD9.2 billion. The country’s overall imports dropped 1.5 per cent to 178.4 billion.

THE DAY IN ASIA

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng edged 0.2 per cent lower to 28,432.05. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 shed 0.1 per cent to 6,059.40 while the Kospi in South Korea rebounded 1.1 per cent to 2,225.85. The Shanghai Composite index dropped 0.1 per cent to 2,719.70. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 finished almost flat at 21,139.71, despite preliminary data showing that its economy grew by 1.4 per cent in 2018’s fourth quarter, helped by strong domestic demand. Shares rose in Singapore and the Philippines.

ENERGY

US crude rose 65 cents to USD54.55 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It picked up 80 cents to settle at USD53.90 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained USD1.14 to USD64.75 per barrel. It added USD1.19 to close at USD63.61 per barrel in London.

CURRENCIES

The dollar rose to 111.02 yen from 110.98 yen late Wednesday. The euro climbed to USD1.1265 from USD1.1261.