Asian Stocks Firm After Wall Street Gains; Trade Fears Remain in Focus

Aug 06, 2018

Asian stocks firmed in morning trade on Monday after Wall Street advanced in the last session. Trade concerns remained in focus after China announced another set of tariffs on U.S. goods.

China said on Friday that it would impose tariffs, ranging from 5% to 35%, on $60 billion in U.S. goods that include many agriculture-related goods if the U.S. proceeded with placing more tariffs on Chinese imports.

The warnings came after U.S. President Donald Trump urged U.S. Trade Representative to consider raising the proposed tariffs on Chinese goods to 25% from the initial 10% earlier this month.

Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow said in an interview with Bloomberg over the weekend that Trump would keep adding pressure to China.

“We’ve said many times: no tariffs, no tariff barriers, no subsidies. We want to see trade reforms. China is not delivering, OK?,” Kudlow said on Friday. “Their economy’s weak, their currency is weak, people are leaving the country. Don’t underestimate President Trump’s determination to follow through.”

In Asia, the Shanghai Composite and the SZSE Component traded 0.4% and 0.3% higher by 9:45PM ET (01:45 GMT). The Chinese yuan received some focus after the People’s Bank of China said on Friday that it would impose a 20% reserve requirement on some trading of foreign-exchange forward contracts, effectively making it more expensive to short the yuan.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 rose 0.4%. Index heavyweights Fanuc Corp. (T:6954) climbed 1.5% while Fast Retailing Co., Ltd. (T:9983) edged 0.2% lower. South Korea’s KOSPI gained 0.5%.

Down under, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 climbed 0.4%, with the materials subindex leading gains. BHP Billiton Ltd (AX:BHP) (LON:BLT) was up 2.2% and Rio Tinto Ltd (AX:RIO) advanced 0.9%.

Looking ahead, China is set to release its July trade figures on Wednesday. Analysts expect the country’s trade surplus to narrow to $39.1 billion in July from $41.6 billion. In addition, China will publish a report on foreign exchange reserves on Tuesday, followed by data on consumer and factory inflation figures on Thursday.