Asia stocks gain as trade fears subside; yen falls

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Pedestrians are reflected on an electronics stock indicator at the window of a securities company in Tokyo. AFP

Stocks in Asia followed their U.S. counterparts higher on signs that an escalation of trade tensions was beginning to ease. The yen slipped and the South Korean won rallied as news emerged of a surprise visit to China by North Korea’s leader.

Japan’s benchmarks gained at least 2 percent, while U.S. equity futures built on a Monday rally that saw the S&P 500 Index post its biggest one-day jump since August 2015. The won was the best performer among Asian emerging-market currencies as Kim Jong Un was said to be making an unannounced visit to Beijing, his first known trip outside North Korea since taking power in 2011. The yen was lower as risk-on sentiment returned.

The resurgence in risk appetite emerged as the Trump administration was said to be urging China to lower tariffs on cars and open its market to U.S. financial services as part of talks to resolve a rise in trade tensions. U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and his Chinese counterpart have been discussing the trade deficit between the two countries and were committed to finding a mutually agreeable way to reduce the gap and help China avoid tariffs on $50 billion of exports to the U.S.

While global equities recovered losses sustained on Friday, the MSCI All Country World Index remains about 8 percent lower than its record high reached in January and Japan’s Topix index is still about 10 percent below a January high despite Tuesday’s rally.

“Our base case is that there won’t be an all out trade war,” Craig Macdonald, Aberdeen Standard Investments’ global head of fixed income, said in a phone interview. “It’s a way of applying pressure to get some wins by Trump.” Still, it will lead to more volatility, Macdonald added. “Our sense is that they will get some wins rather than all out war, but it’s not something you can just dismiss. The tail risk is higher.”


Elsewhere, the yield on India’s benchmark 10-year bond fell 24 basis points to 7.38 percent, set for its biggest decline since November 2013, as the government surprised the market by reducing the size of its borrowing. Oil traded above $65 a barrel.

Here’s a list of of the main events coming up this week:

U.S. personal income and spending data for February are due to be released on Thursday. The big four euro-area economies are due to release March CPI readings. The U.S. Treasury will probably auction about $294 billion of bills and notes this week, its largest slate of supply ever.

And these are the main moves in markets:


The MSCI Asia Pacific Index advanced 1.3 percent as of 1:48 p.m. Tokyo time. Topix index climbed 2.3 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index rose 0.9 percent. Kospi index rose 0.6 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index increased 0.7 percent. Futures on the S&P 500 Index rose 0.4 percent.


The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index was flat. The Japanese yen fell 0.2 percent to 105.59 per dollar. The euro rose less than 0.1 percent to $1.2451. The won jumped 1 percent to 1,070.15 per dollar.


The yield on 10-year Treasuries was unchanged at 2.85 percent. Japan’s 10-year yield climbed four basis points to 0.065 percent. Australia’s 10-year yield held at 2.66 percent.


West Texas Intermediate crude rose 0.4 percent to $65.82 a barrel. Gold traded at $1,354.43 an ounce. LME copper gained 1.5 percent to $6,703.00 per metric ton. — Bloomberg