Asian markets rose Friday putting them on course to end a shaky week on a positive note as investors look ahead to crucial trade talks between China and the United States at the end of the month.
Small signs of a break in the impasse on Capitol Hill also provided some hope, with Democrats and Republicans meeting to end the month-long government shutdown that is taking its toll on the economy and has left hundreds of thousands of workers unpaid.
Wall Street provided a mixed lead, though the technology sector was supported by strong earnings from US semiconductor firms such as Texas Instruments, while energy firms tracked healthy gains in oil prices.
There are hopes that next week’s meeting in Washington between top Chinese and US officials will see some progress, but Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross looked to temper expectations Thursday by saying the two sides are “miles and miles” from resolving their trade war.
However, he still offered some hope, saying: “I believe China would like to make a deal. I believe we would like to make a deal but it has to be a deal that works for both parties.
“I’m trying to say people shouldn’t think the events of next week will be the solution to all of the issues between the United States and China.”
Edward Moya, a market analyst at OANDA, pointed out that US markets were niggled by the “miles away” comment, but said that “many failed to focus on the rest of his comments that there is a fair chance a deal will get done, just not this week”.
Hong Kong jumped 1.7 percent and Shanghai ended up 0.4 percent while Tokyo closed one percent higher.
Sydney jumped 0.7 percent, Singapore gained 0.5 percent and Seoul was 1.5 percent higher. Taipei was 0.9 percent up, while Manila, Wellington and Jakarta also made healthy advances.
In early trade, London rose 0.1 percent, Paris gained 0.5 percent and Frankfurt surged 0.9 percent.
– ‘We’re talking, we’re talking’ –
The gains helped the region to a positive end to a week that started on a dour note as China reported its economy was growing at its slowest pace in 28 years.
In Washington, two bills to end the shutdown were thrown out by the senate but the president signalled he could back a “reasonable” proposal that includes border security. However, Democrats reasserted they will not fund a Mexican border wall.
The Senate leaders of both parties met Thursday to discuss the issue, with Democrat Chuck Schumer later seen smiling and saying: “We’re talking, we’re talking”.
OANDA’s Moya said that with Donald Trump fighting the trade war as well as the US shutdown, he would need to make some headway on one some time soon.
“The president needs a win, and he will need to decide soon whether he will move forward in resolving the shutdown or the trade war with China,” he said. “If he leaves both at their current states, he will see all the stock market gains and confidence in the economy evaporate.”
Oil prices rallied more than one percent as instability in Venezuela fuelled concerns about supplies from the major producer, with Trump weighing sanctions on Nicolas Maduro’s regime and backing opposition leader Juan Guaido as the country’s interim president.
“It’s a function of people keeping an eye on supply concerns out of Venezuela,” Marshall Steeves, an energy markets analyst at Informa Economics, told Bloomberg News. “That’s the overriding issue today.”
And on currency markets, the pound continued its upward momentum following a report that the Democratic Unionist Party — who provide her the crucial votes for a majority — had given the green light to Prime Minister Theresa May’s revised Brexit plan.
“The way the ground is shifting seems to support the case for a delay to the March 29th exit, which if (it) plays out would be sterling-positive and we could see more gains from what remains a rather undervalued level for the pound,” said Neil Wilson, chief market analyst at Markets.com.
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