Asian shares surge on confirmation of US-China trade talks

Stocks rose across the region as investor sentiments were buoyed by a potential easing of trade tensions.

    A no-deal Brexit that is looking less likely and the withdrawal of a contentious extradition bill in Hong Kong were factors that boosted stock markets on Thursday [File: Tian Weitao/Xinhua]
    A no-deal Brexit that is looking less likely and the withdrawal of a contentious extradition bill in Hong Kong were factors that boosted stock markets on Thursday [File: Tian Weitao/Xinhua]

    Asian shares extended gains on Thursday and United States stock futures jumped after China said it will hold trade talks with the US in early October, raising hopes they can de-escalate their trade war before it inflicts further damage on the global economy.

    MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 1.08 percent, while the Shanghai composite index surged 1.7 percent. Japan's Nikkei added 2.4 percent.

    US stock futures reversed early losses and rose one percent.

    The Chinese yuan jumped versus the dollar in offshore trade, while safe-haven assets such as gold and the Japanese yen fell.

    China's Commerce Ministry said its trade team will consult with their US counterparts in mid-September in preparation for negotiations in early October, hinting at progress in reducing trade friction.

    Both sides had agreed to take actual actions to create favourable conditions, the ministry added, without giving more details.

    "Since yesterday, there has been limited downside in markets because of what happened in Hong Kong, but now the US-China talks are the story," said Masayuki Kichikawa, chief macro strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui Asset Management Co in Tokyo.

    "It's the same about Brexit, which means less downside risk." 

    Freddy Lim, chief investment officer of Singapore-based wealth management platform StashAway told Al Jazeera that in addition to the unlikelihood of a hard Brexit and news on trade talks, investors were still responding positively to the withdrawal of the extradition bill in Hong Kong.

    "Investors are just taking back stocks after a bit of overselling previously," said Lim, adding that he is still cautious, advising investors against jumping into stocks due to FOMO, or the fear of missing out.

    Hong Kong shares erased early losses to rise 0.5 percent. They had jumped in afternoon trade on Wednesday after leader Carrie Lam said she was withdrawing an extradition bill that had triggered months of often violent protests in the Asian financial hub.

    In currency markets, sterling held onto gains against the dollar in Asia after rallying the most in more than five months on Wednesday after legislators voted to prevent Prime Minister Boris Johnson taking Britain out of the European Union without a deal on October 31.

    But, more than three years since the United Kingdom voted narrowly to leave the EU, the outcome of Brexit is still unclear, with possible outcomes ranging from a crash out of the EU to abandoning the whole endeavour.

    Against the offshore yuan, the dollar fell 0.2 percent to 7.1324 yuan.

    US Treasury yields extended gains in Asia and the yield curve steepened, both signs that investors were willing to take on riskier assets.

    The 10-year yield rose to 1.4758 percent, while two-year yields rose to 1.4519 percent.

    The curve inverted on August 14 for the first time since 2007 when long-term yields traded below short-term yields, which is a widely accepted indicator of a coming recession.

    The spread between two- and 10-year Treasury yields, the most commonly used measure of the yield curve, rose to its highest since August 21 on Wednesday but narrowed slightly in Asian trade.

    US West Texas Intermediate crude also reversed losses to trade up 0.2 percent.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies