SYDNEY, April 9 2018 : Asian shares edged higher today as a bounce in U.S. stock futures soothed sentiment even as U.S. President Donald Trump kept up his twitter war with China over trade just a couple of days before President Xi Jinping gives a keynote speech.
There was also little immediate reaction to reports U.S. forces had struck at sites in Syria, presumably in retaliation for an alleged chemical attack on civilians there.
Trump said yesterday there would be a “big price to pay” after medical aid groups reported dozens of people were killed by poison gas in a besieged rebel-held town.
Yet the Wall Street Journal reported Pentagon officials had denied the reports of U.S. strikes, leaving markets confused.
For now, investors in Asia were encouraged that E-Mini futures for the S&P 500 were still up 0.4 percent, while NASDAQ futures rose 0.6 percent.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan inched up 0.1 percent. Japan’s Nikkei wavered either side of flat, and South Korea edged ahead by 0.2 percent.
Trump late Thursday threatened to slap $100 billion more in tariffs on Chinese imports, while Beijing said it was fully prepared to respond with a “fierce counter strike”.
Analysts warned the drama would be a long-running one given the lengthy public discussion period on U.S. tariff proposals meant the earliest they might be imposed was somewhere around late July or early August.
“This is not going to happen tomorrow, and given the mercurial nature of the U.S. administration, the whole issue could well disappear before anything really happens,” said Marshall Gittler, chief strategist at ACLS Global.
The next major hurdle will be a speech by Chinese President Xi at the Boao Forum tomorrow.
The war of words took a toll on Wall Street on Friday. The Dow ended down 2.3 percent, while the S&P 500 lost 2.2 percent and the Nasdaq 2.3 percent.
The looming earnings season might be strong enough to provide fundamental support for stocks, with analysts tipping the fastest quarterly profit growth in seven years.
The latest souring of risk sentiment and a soft report on U.S. payrolls helped sovereign debt end last week on a firm note. Yields on U.S. 10-year Treasury debt dropped back to 2.786 percent, from a top of 2.8380 on Thursday.
In commodity markets, gold eased slightly to $1,331.90 an ounce, but stayed well within recent trading ranges.
Oil prices edged up in early trade with Brent crude futures for June rising 16 cents to $67.27 a barrel, while U.S. crude rose 11 cents to $62.17 a barrel. – Reuters