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A file photo of men exchange greetings in front of an electronic board displaying the Nikkei average outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan.

Asian stocks pick up steam as hopes of policy support lift China

Wed, June 20, 2018 10:24

SHANGHAI, June 20, 2018 (News Wires) - Asian stock markets picked up steam in afternoon trade on Wednesday after a wobbly morning session, highlighting the lingering anxiety and uncertainty surrounding a heated trade dispute between China and the United States.

S&P 500 futures ESc1 turned higher, rising 0.3 per cent and pointing to possible gains on Wall Street after major US indexes closed lower Tuesday.

In Asia, bargain hunters turned out to pick up shares on the cheap after the previous day's rout. The MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS bounced 1.1 per cent after a 2.1 per cent slide on Tuesday. Japan's Nikkei .N225 was up 1.3 per cent after falling into negative territory earlier in the day. South Korea's KOSPI .KS11 rose 1.4 per cent.

In China, markets turned losses into gains as investors appeared to take heart from indications of government support.

The Shanghai Composite Index .SSEC was 0.5 per cent higher in early afternoon trade a day after falling 3.8 per cent to a two-year low.

China's blue-chip CSI300 index .CSI300 gained 0.6 per cent, and the Shenzhen Composite Index .SZSC rose 1.4 per cent.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index .HSI was 1.4 per cent higher in early afternoon trade after closing down 2.8 per cent on Tuesday. The China Enterprises Index .HSCE reversed losses from the morning session, rising 0.9 per cent.

In a working paper on Tuesday, China’s central bank said the country should cut banks’ reserve requirement ratios (RRR) to boost market liquidity, highlighting concerns over trade, a day after the central bank governor urged investors to remain calm.

“It is fair to say an RRR (cut) seems imminent ... the only question is the magnitude,” Sue Trinh, head of Asia FX Strategy at RBC Capital Markets in Hong Kong said in a note.

An apparent bias toward looser policy “runs counter to the regional bias toward higher rates to protect currency downside,” she said, adding that growing policy divergence indicates room for the onshore and offshore yuan to depreciate.

The bounce in share markets comes despite trade tensions between the United States and China showing few signs of easing. On Tuesday, a White House trade adviser said that Beijing has underestimated the US president’s resolve to impose more tariffs.

Washington threatened on Monday to impose a 10 per cent tariff on $200 billion of Chinese goods after Beijing decided to raise tariffs on $50 billion in US goods, in response to similar tariffs on Chinese goods announced Friday.

Nevertheless, the yield on benchmark 10-year Treasury notes US10YT=RR rose to 2.9022 per cent on Wednesday afternoon after earlier falling to 2.8820.

The two-year yield US2YT=RR, which rises with traders’ expectations of higher Fed fund rates, was at 2.5535 per cent.

Australian stocks , which saw strong buying throughout the day, were 1.1 per cent higher, supported by a weak local dollar AUD=. The Aussie dollar rose 0.3 per cent after hitting a one-year low on Tuesday.

A more attractive dividend proposition and a weaker Australian dollar have made the market more alluring to overseas investors, said Ryan Felsman, a senior economist at CommSec.

“Last year the Aussie market was only up 7 per cent relative to the US at 25 per cent. We didn’t get the sugar hit from the corporate tax plan, so there’s a bit of catch-up in play as well,” he said.

The US dollar was stronger against the yen, rising 0.2 per cent to 110.20 JPY=.

The euro EUR= was 0.1 per cent lower at $1.1574, while the dollar index .DXY, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six major rivals, was flat at 95.094.

US crude CLc1 rose 0.7 per cent to $65.55 a barrel, supported by a drop in US commercial crude inventories. But analysts said trade concerns and disagreements within the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries over boosting supply continue to loom over the market.

Iran said on Tuesday that OPEC was unlikely to reach a deal on oil output this week.

Gold was flat after falling near six-month lows Tuesday on a strong dollar. Spot gold XAU= was traded at $1274.54 per ounce.

Investors in cryptocurrencies were also hit by losses after South Korean virtual currency exchange Bithumb said it had been hacked and 35 billion won worth of virtual currency held at the exchange was stolen. 

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