TOKYO, March 8 2018 : Asian shares found relief today as fears about a global trade war amid U.S. President Donald Trump’s push to introduce protectionist tariffs were tempered by signs the move could include carve-outs for key partners.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.2 percent, led by gains in South Korean shares, which also benefited from signs of easing tensions between the two Koreas. Japan’s Nikkei .N225 gained one percent.
On Wall Street, the S&P 500 .SPX ended down just 0.05 percent at 2,726.8 after an initial loss of almost one percent, with tech shares being a major bright spot.
That soothed worries that the Trump Administration could lean more towards protectionist policies after the departure of his top economic adviser Gary Cohn.
“Concerns about the U.S. tariff should ease today following the comments from the White House,” said Masahiro Ichikawa, senior strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui Asset Management. “Still the issue will continue to hang over in the markets. Investors need to see exactly what steps Trump will take and what retaliatory actions other countries will take in coming days.”
In the currency market, the Mexican peso and Canadian dollar recovered from their steep losses.
The dollar also stabilized against other major currencies after its recent hit from fears about the tariff plan.
The euro EUR= traded at $1.2411, having risen to $1.2447 yesterday, its highest levels since Feb. 16. The common currency has been rising since it had hit a seven-week low of $1.21545 when Trump unveiled his tariff plan last Thursday.
The European Central Bank is all but certain to keep policy unchanged today but may tweak its communication stance to offer at least a few clues about its progress towards ending its unprecedented bond purchases later this year.
The dollar changed hands at 106.05 yen JPY=, keeping some distance from its 16-month low of 105.24 touched on Friday.
Bitcoin fell after the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said many online trading platforms for cryptocurrencies should be registered with the regulator and subject to additional rules.
On the Bitstamp exchange, it traded at $9,904 BTC=BTSP, having lost 7.6 percent yesterday, its biggest daily fall in over a month.
In commodities, oil prices were under pressure, hit by worries about U.S. protectionism as well as U.S. government data showing an increase in crude inventories and output.
Weekly data from the U.S. Department of Energy showed weekly U.S. crude production hit a record high last week of almost 10.4 million barrels per day.