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Asia shares left guessing on trade, await Trump speech

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan edged up a slight 0.04 per cent.

Reuters|
Nov 12, 2019, 10.35 AM IST
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Japan's Nikkei dithered either side of flat, while Shanghai blue chips eased 0.1 per cent.
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 per cent, following a sharp 1.2 per cent pullback on Monday.

Japan's Nikkei dithered either side of flat, while Shanghai blue chips eased 0.1 per cent. E-Mini futures for the S&P 500 also dipped 0.1 per cent, 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 wrongfooted 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 European Union autos for another six months.

Investors were anxious about the situation in Hong Kong after a violent escalation of protests knocked nearly 2 per cent 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 United States closed the Treasury market on Monday and made for a quiet session on Wall Street. The Dow ended up 0.04 per cent, while the S&P 500 lost 0.20 per cent and the Nasdaq 0.13 per cent.

Shares of Boeing Co jumped 4.5 per cent 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 per cent and away from last week's three-month top of 1.97 per cent.

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 significant boost for Prime Minister Boris Johnson ahead of the Dec. 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 per cent 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 yen.

Spot gold suffered a third day of declines, to touch its lowest since early August at $1,447.89 per 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 15 cents to $56.71 a barrel, while Brent crude futures fell 13 cents to $62.05.

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