Asia Hikes Amid Trade Optimism

Shares in Asia bounded higher on Tuesday as market sentiment improved ahead of the phase one trade deal signing between China and the U.S. later this week. Optimism rose further after Washington said Beijing was no longer a currency manipulator.

Markets in Japan returned from a long weekend, as the Nikkei 225 index thundered ahead 174.6 points, or 0.7%, to 24,025.17. Shares of technology conglomerate Softbank surged 3.5%.

The safe-haven Japanese yen weakened as markets took a risk-on mode, trading at 110.08 versus the U.S. dollar, from the 109 level earlier.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index retreated 69.8 points, or 0.2%, to 28,885.14

Australian markets gained back lost strength, as major miners gained. Fortescue Metals and Rio Tinto both jumped 1.9%, and BHP Group rose 1.3%.

The Australian dollar pretty much stayed put, at around $0.6904.


In Shanghai, the CSI 300 dropped 14.1 points, or 0.3%, to 4,189.89.

China’s dollar-denominated imports from the U.S. rebounded in November and December, Reuters reported citing data from China’s customs released on Tuesday. It was the first time that its exports went up since March last year.

In December China’s trade surplus with the U.S. was $23.18 billion — down from $24.6 billion in November.

In particular, China’s soybean and pork imports from the U.S. significantly rebounded in December. Washington has demanded that Beijing buys more agricultural goods from the U.S. as part of their phase on trade deal — the signing of that agreement is set to happen on Wednesday in Washington. The deal is also expected to involve some rollback of tariffs.

Ahead of the signing, the U.S. removed China from the currency manipulator list on Monday — more than five months after the U.S. Treasury put the country on it, saying that Beijing has been keeping the yuan artificially weaker.

On Monday the Chinese yuan strengthened further to the level below 6.90 — which was the strongest level to the dollar since Aug. 1. It continued appreciating on Tuesday — the offshore yuan was at 6.8808, from last week’s high of 6.9775. The onshore yuan was last at 6.8809, as compared to a high of 6.9786 last week.

In other markets

In Taiwan, the Taiex progressed 66.39 points, or 0.6%, to 12,179.81

In Korea, the Kospi index added 9.62 points, or 0.4%, to 2,238.88

In Singapore, the Straits Times Index recovered 19.47 points, or 0.6%, to 3,270.54

In New Zealand, the NZX 50 restocked 81.46 points, or 0.7%, to 11,625.13

In Australia, the ASX 200 gained 58.53 points, or 0.9%, to 6,962.20