Asian stocks see brighter world as trade, UK clouds lift

Asian stocks see brighter world as trade, UK clouds lift

Asian share markets jumped on Friday as a last-gasp Sino-U.S. trade deal and a likely major election win by Britain's Conservative Party looked to have cleared a couple of dark clouds from the global horizon.

FILE PHOTO: A woman points to an electronic board showing stock prices as she poses in front of the
FILE PHOTO: A woman points to an electronic board showing stock prices as she poses in front of the board after the New Year opening ceremony at the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE), held to wish for the success of Japan's stock market, in Tokyo, Japan, January 4, 2019. REUTERS

SYDNEY: Asian share markets jumped on Friday as a last-gasp Sino-U.S. trade deal and a likely major election win by Britain's Conservative Party looked to have cleared a couple of dark clouds from the global horizon.

The double dose of relief slugged safe-haven sovereign bonds and the Japanese yen, even leading investors to scale back the chance of more interest rates cuts around the world.

"Global investors have been given two of the biggest gifts on their Christmas list and should be appreciative for a while at least," said Sean Callow, a senior forex analyst at Westpac.

"Global equity indices such as MSCI World should set more record highs and sterling could push above US$1.36."

The pound hit its highest since mid-2018 as UK exit polls seemed to rule out a shock win by the left-wing Labour opposition, and could help clarify the outlook for Brexit.

Polls suggested Prime Minster Boris Johnson could gain a commanding 368 seats in Britain's Parliament, settling another long-standing uncertainty.

The pound was last up 2.3per cent at US$1.3464 and reached levels on the euro not visited since mid-2016.

A wave of trade euphoria had already lifted Wall Street to record highs. Reuters reported the United States has agreed to reduce some tariffs on Chinese goods and delay a tranche of tariffs as part of a phase one deal.

China also has agreed to make US$50 billion in agricultural purchases in 2020 as part of the deal, that person and another U.S. source familiar with the talks said.

"If the U.S. cuts the current tariffs to some extent as reported, that is not something markets have priced in, so we could see a further leg up in the stock market," said Norihiro Fujito, chief investment strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities in Tokyo.

"The Conservatives appear to be on course for a big win. We are now finally seeing a clear direction on Brexit after three years of deadlock."

LESS NEED FOR MORE CUTS?

In Asia, Japan's Nikkei climbed 2.1per cent to a 14-month high, while South Korean stocks firmed 1.2per cent. E-Mini futures for the S&P 500 rose 0.4per cent to another peak.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan put on 0.5per cent.

Wall Street had celebrated the trade news with record highs. The Dow ended Thursday up 0.79per cent, while the S&P 500 gained 0.86per cent and the Nasdaq 0.73per cent.

That was bad news for bonds and yields on U.S. 10-year Treasuries shot up to 1.95per cent, a rise of 16 basis points in just two sessions.

Interest rate futures slipped as investors priced in less chance of a rate cut from the Federal Reserve next year - a shift seen across a range of developed nations.

Other safe harbours also took a beating, with the yen sliding across the board. The dollar firmed further to 109.42 yen having risen 0.7per cent overnight.

The dollar fared less well elsewhere as the pound and the euro both benefited from the UK exit polls. The euro added 0.5per cent to US$1.1189 , while the dollar dipped 0.35per cent on a basket of currencies to 96.742 .

The dollar also lost out to the Chinese yuan to hit an 18-week low as any truce would be seen as a boon for the export-heavy economy. The dollar was last at 6.9487 yuan having shed a steep 1.2per cent overnight.

The shift from safe havens saw spot gold ease to US$1,465.04 per ounce .

Oil prices rallied on hopes a trade deal would support global growth and thus demand.

U.S. crude added 36 cents to US$59.54 a barrel, while Brent crude had yet to open.

(Graphic: Asia-Pacific valuations link: https://product.datastream.com/dscharting/gateway.aspx?guid=80e5bbdc-eae6-4b37-bc49-a2d8056b75de&action=REFRESH)

(Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Sam Holmes)

Source: Reuters

Bookmark