Stocks fall as traders question next move in trade war

Thursday, 7 November 2019 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Passers-by are reflected on a stock quotation board outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan, 6 August – Reuters

TOKYO (Reuters): Asian shares fell yesterday for the first time in four trading sessions as investors awaited new developments that might scale back a bruising trade war between the US and China.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan eased 0.12%. Australian shares were down 0.55%, Chinese stocks fell 0.25%, Japan’s Nikkei stock index rose 0.21%.

The pan-region Euro Stoxx 50 futures were down 0.03%, German DAX futures were down 0.06%, while FTSE futures were down 0.29%.

Treasury yields fell slightly and crude oil futures fell as investors took a breather as US and Chinese negotiators continued their efforts to seal a preliminary trade deal. The world’s two biggest economies have signalled they are pushing hard for a ‘phase one’ trade agreement, possibly sometime this month.

The dollar held onto overnight gains against the yen and the euro after better-than-expected data on the US services sector, but some analysts warn it will be difficult to shake lingering concern about the global economic outlook.

“We’ve had a good run-up, but there may be some consolidation,” said Shane Oliver, head of investment strategy and chief economist at AMP Capital Investors in Sydney.

“The trade war is the biggest reason that global growth has weakened over the past 18 months. We would like to see tariffs scaled back. We’re still waiting for clearer signs of a resolution.”

US stock futures ESc1 erased earlier losses to inch 0.01% higher yesterday in Asia after the S&P 500 gave up just 0.01% on Tuesday, having reached a record high in the previous trading session.

Traders and investors hope a preliminary Sino-US trade pact will roll back at least some of the punitive tariffs that Washington and Beijing have imposed on each other’s goods, but it is still uncertain when or where US President Donald Trump will meet Chinese President Xi Jinping to sign the agreement.

In the onshore market the yuan traded at 6.9930 versus the dollar, approaching a three-month high as currency traders took their cue from hopes for a trade deal.

Treasury prices rose slightly in Asia, recovering from a sell-off on Tuesday after data from the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) showed the US services sector expanded more than expected in October.

The yield on benchmark 10-year Treasury notes fell to 1.8513% in Asia yesterday, while the two-year yield fell slightly to 1.6207%.

A jump in oil prices on Tuesday ran out of steam yesterday. U.S. crude fell 0.37% to $ 57.02 per barrel and Brent crude fell 0.40% to $ 62.71 per barrel.

Elsewhere in the currency market, the dollar continued to benefit from the positive ISM data.

The dollar traded at 109.06 yen, close to its highest since 1 August. The greenback also changed hands at $ 1.1076 per euro, approaching its highest level since 16 October.