Asian shares tread water as traders await Trump speech
Sydney — Asian share markets flatlined on Tuesday as uncertainty over Sino-US trade talks and political strife in Hong Kong dogged sentiment, while safe-haven bonds eked out a bounce.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan edged up a slight 0.04%, after a sharp 1.2% pullback on Monday.
Japan’s Nikkei dithered either side of flat, while Shanghai blue chips eased 0.1%. E-Mini futures for the S&P 500 also dipped 0.1%, as did Eurostoxx 50 futures.
Caution ruled ahead of a speech by US President Donald Trump to the Economic Club of New York later in the day in case there was any new word on the Sino-US phase one trade deal. Trump wrong-footed markets over the weekend when he said there had been incorrect reporting about US willingness to lift tariffs on China.
On a more positive note, Politico reported Trump would announce this week that he is delaying a decision on whether to slap tariffs on imported EU vehicles for another six months.
Investors were anxious about the situation in Hong Kong after a violent escalation of protests knocked nearly 2% off Asia-exposed banks HSBC and StanChart.
Riot police were deployed at metro stations across the territory and large queues were forming at railway platforms as commuters struggled to get to work.
A partial holiday in the US closed the Treasury market on Monday and made for a quiet session on Wall Street. The Dow ended up 0.04%, while the S&P 500 lost 0.20% and the Nasdaq 0.13%.
Shares of Boeing jumped 4.5% after saying it expected US regulators to approve the return to commercial service of its grounded 737 MAX jet in the coming weeks, and expects commercial service to resume in January.
Treasuries were in demand when trading resumed in Asia, with yields on 10-year notes dropping to 1.918% and away from last week’s three-month top of 1.97%.
In currency markets, the main action was in sterling which hit a six-month high on the euro after the Brexit Party said it would not contest previously Conservative held seats in the UK election.
In a boost for Prime Minister Boris Johnson ahead of the December 12 election, Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage said he did not want anti-Brexit parties to win, so was standing down candidates in seats won by the Conservatives in 2017.
The pound reached 0.8582 per euro, and firmed to $1.2856, having risen 0.6% overnight.
Against a basket of currencies, the dollar steadied at 98.256. The euro edged up to $1.1030 and away from a three-week low of $1.1015, while the dollar faded to ¥109.10.
Spot gold suffered a third day of declines, to touch its lowest since early August at $1,447.89 an ounce. It was last trading at $1,455.62.
Oil prices edged lower as the lack of progress on US-China trade negotiations kept prices pressured, though bullish inventory data offered some support.
US crude lost 15c to $56.71 a barrel, while Brent crude futures fell 13c to $62.05.