TOKYO: US stock futures gained in early Asian trade on Tuesday (Sep 24) after US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said US-China trade talks will resume in early October while the euro struggled in the wake of dismal European manufacturing and services data.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan barely budged, up just 0.03 per cent while Japan's Nikkei ticked up 0.10 per cent after a market holiday on Monday.
US stock futures gained 0.39 per cent, helped by comments from US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin that US-China trade talks will resume next week. He later clarified that the negotiations will take place in two weeks.
"The comments gave a little bit of boost to sentiment, but markets are still not that optimistic either," said Masahiro Ichikawa, senior strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui DS Asset Management.
"It seems there have been a lot going on behind the scenes," he said, referring to unusual exchanges in which US President Donald Trump questioned a decision by his top trade negotiators to ask Chinese officials to delay a planned trip to US farming regions.
That cancellation was seen by markets as a sign all is not well in the U.S.-China talks and helped to send share prices lower on Friday. The dispute between the world's two largest economies has dragged on for well over a year, rattling investors and denting global growth.
A slowing global economy remained front and centre in financial markets, as poor business activity readings from the euro zone deepened fears of a recession and suggested more stimulus was required.
The euro wobbled at US$1.0995, falling below a key support around US$1.10 and not far from a 28-month low of US$1.0926 touched earlier this month.
Sterling also slipped to US$1.2435, having peaked at a two-month high of US$1.2582 set on Friday as traders looked to a Supreme Court ruling on whether Prime Minister Boris Johnson misled Queen Elizabeth over his reasons for suspending parliament this month.
The Supreme Court said it will issue its decision at 0930 GMT on Tuesday.
The collapse of the British travel firm Thomas Cook could also put some pressure on the pound by highlighting the weakness of British retailing.
The yen traded at 107.49 yen per dollar, having hit two-week highs of 107.32 on Monday.
US Treasuries yields extended their decline, with the 10-year rate falling to 1.716 per cent, edging down further from 1.908 per cent marked on Sep 13.
Oil prices dipped slightly but were still supported by doubts on whether Saudi Arabia would be able to restore full output as it has promised after the Sep 14 attacks on its facilities.
Brent crude futures fell 0.45 per cent to US$64.48 a barrel while US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude lost 0.39 per cent to US$58.41 per barrel.
Gold held firm at US$1,522.2 per ounce, near its highest level in more than two weeks on global growth concerns while silver was upbeat at US$18.649 per ounce after a 3.6 per cent jump on Monday.