Asian stocks on edge hours before tariff deadline

July 6, 2018 - 9:28 AM
FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: The label of a Washington D.C. sweatshirt bears a U.S. flag but says "Made in China" at a souvenir stand in Washington, DC, U.S., January 14, 2011. (REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo/File Photo)

SHANGHAI- Asian share markets were set for a bumpy ride on Friday just hours ahead of a U.S. deadline to impose tariffs on Chinese imports, which has rattled financial markets in recent weeks as investors feared it could trigger a full-blown global trade war.

On Thursday, U.S. President Donald Trump confirmed that the United States would begin collecting tariffs on $34 billion worth of Chinese imports at 12:01 a.m. Washington time (0401 GMT) on Friday, and warned that subsequent rounds could see tariffs imposed on more than $500 billion worth of goods.

“The risk that further escalation derails growth is keeping some investors cautious,” ANZ analysts said in a note Friday.

The Sino-U.S. trade dispute has roiled financial markets including stocks, currencies and the global trade of commodities from soybeans to coal over the past several weeks.

Overnight gains in European and U.S. equities, however, provided some comfort for the start of Asian trading. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan inched up 0.05 percent, with some support from early gains in Korean and Australian shares.

Japan’s Nikkei stock index was 1.1 percent higher after closing at a three-month low on Thursday, while Australian shares gained 0.2 percent. Seoul’s Kospi index edged up 0.2 percent.

In Thursday’s Wall Street session, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.75 percent, the S&P 500 0.86 percent and the Nasdaq Composite 1.12 percent.

U.S. and European shares were boosted by reassuring economic data from Germany, and as automakers’ shares jumped, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel saying she would back lowering European Union tariffs on U.S. car imports after Washington offered to scrap threatened tariffs on European cars. But newly released minutes from the U.S. Federal Reserve’s last policy meeting on June 12-13 showed policymakers discussed whether recession lurked around the corner, and expressed concerns global trade tensions could hit an economy that by most measures looked strong.

The yield on benchmark 10-year Treasury notes was at 2.8364 percent. The two-year yield, which rises with traders’ expectations of higher Fed fund rates, touched 2.5527 percent compared with a U.S. close of 2.561 percent.

Gold, which is sensitive to rising interest rates, was flat. Spot gold traded at $1257.63 per ounce.

The dollar fell slightly against the yen, dropping 0.1 percent to 110.54.

The single currency was up a hair on the day at $1.1694, while the dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six major rivals, turned down 0.1 percent to 94.365.

Oil prices ticked up after falling on U.S. government data that showed an unexpected jump in crude oil stockpiles.

U.S. crude rose 0.2 percent at $73.08 a barrel. Brent crude was also 0.2 percent higher at $77.52 per barrel.-Reporting by Andrew Galbraith Editing by Shri Navaratnam