Stocks in Asia trade higher after US and China postpone tariff escalation

FAN Editor

Stocks in Asia traded higher Monday morning after Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping agreed to a temporary trade truce between the United States and China.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 rose 1.18 percent in early trade while the Topix index advanced 1.27 percent. In South Korea, the Kospi gained 1.34 percent.

Over in Australia, the ASX 200 jumped 1.37 percent in morning trade with almost all sectors in positive territory. Shares of major miners saw strong gains: Rio Tinto advanced 2.13 percent, Fortescue Metals Group surged 4.38 percent while BHP Billiton gained 2.48 percent.

The mainland Chinese markets, closely watched as a result of Beijing’s ongoing trade spat with Washington, are set to open at 9:30 a.m. HK/SIN.

China-watchers will look to a new reading on economic activity in China, the Caixin Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index for November, which is set to be released at 9:45 a.m. HK/SIN.

The moves in Asia came after Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Donald Trump agreed to a momentary pause on escalating the ongoing trade war between the two economic powerhouses.

A White House statement about the leaders’ dinner at the G-20 summit in Argentina said Xi and Trump discussed a range of nettlesome issues — among them the trade dispute that has left over $200 billion worth of goods hanging in the balance.

“President Trump has agreed that on January 1, 2019, he will leave the tariffs on $200 billion worth of product at the 10 percent rate, and not raise it to 25 percent at this time,” the statement read. Over the next 90 days, American and Chinese officials will continue to negotiate lingering disagreements on technology transfer, intellectual property and agriculture.

On the back of that development, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures jumped 400 points shortly after the start of trading at 6 p.m. in New York on Sunday.

As of 7:04 p.m. ET Sunday, futures pointed to an implied gain of 446.54 at the open for the Dow.

Oil prices saw strong gains Monday morning during Asian trading hours. The international benchmark Brent surged 2.72 percent to $61.08 per barrel. U.S. crude futures jumped 3.26 percent to $52.59 per barrel.

The moves in the energy markets came after crude saw its worst month in a decade during November, amid concerns of oversupply and global politics.

West Texas Intermediate, or U.S. crude, lost 21 percent in November, tumbling to its lowest level in a year and logging its worst performance since October 2008.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 97.107 after touching highs above 97.5 last week.

Joseph Capurso, a currency strategist at Commonwealth Bank of Australia, said in a morning note that the U.S. dollar could “fall further over the next day or two” in reaction to the meeting between Xi and Trump.

“But we are not optimistic of a speedy resolution of their trade frictions. China is unlikely to do more than tweak its ‘Made in China 2025’ plan that so irks the US government,” he wrote.

The Japanese yen, widely seen as a safe-haven currency, was at 113.66 against the dollar after touching highs around the 112.9 handle in the previous trading week. The Australian dollar traded at $0.7350 after touching lows around $0.72 last week.

— CNBC’s Kevin Breuninger, Javier E. David and Keris Lahiff contributed to this report.

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