Asian shares rebound even as Sino-U.S. trade tensions intensify

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Asian shares rebounded on Tuesday as Chinese markets proved resilient to a new round of tariffs from the United States although the mood was cautious as investors braced for a further escalation of tensions between the two giants.

A man walks past an electronic stock quotation board outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan, February 9, 2018. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

U.S. stock futures reversed early losses, with E-Minis for the S&P 500 ESc1 and the Dow 1YMc1 up slightly.

However, European markets looked set for a subdued start. Futures for Eurostoxx 50 STXEc1 and Germany’s Dax FDXc1 eased 0.2 percent while FTSE futures FFIc1 were down a shade.

Investors were nervous after U.S. President Donald Trump imposed 10 percent tariffs on an additional $200 billion worth of Chinese imports, and warned of duties on more products if China took retaliatory action.

Asian shares spent most of the morning in negative territory although the reaction was a little muted because Tuesday’s announcement was in line with expectations and had been baked into prices.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS pared early losses to climb 0.3 percent while Japan’s Nikkei .N225 ended 1.4 percent higher.

FILE PHOTO: A truck drives past Cosco and China Shipping shipping containers in the Port of Miami in Miami, Florida, U.S., May 19, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/File Photo

Chinese shares staged a late rebound as the blue-chip index .CSI300 jumped 1.9 percent, with some betting that Beijing will step up investment in roads and bridges to offset the impact of the latest tariff salvo from Trump.

Trump’s announcement “is largely consistent with the claims made earlier,” Citi analysts said in a note, estimating a 33 basis point drag on China’s economic growth from the 10 percent tariff.

“The trade war may get worse before it gets better. A full-blown trade war looms closer now.”

Chinese Vice Premier Liu He was to convene a meeting in Beijing on Tuesday to discuss the government’s response, Bloomberg News reported, citing a person briefed on the matter.

The South China Morning Post newspaper reported, citing an unidentified source in Beijing, that China was reviewing an earlier plan to send a delegation headed by Liu He to the United States, and was now unlikely to go back to the negotiating table.


In currencies, the dollar index inched lower to 94.438 .DXY although the greenback was firmer at 112.23 against the Japanese yen JPY=, up 0.4 percent.

The risk-sensitive Australian dollar AUD=D3 shed as much as 0.5 percent on the tariff news to near a recent 2-1/2 year low, then it changed direction and last was up 0.5 percent at $0.7212. [AUD/]

The euro EUR= gained 0.2 percent to $1.1704.

The offshore yuan CNH=D3 held firm, last trading at 6.861 per dollar.

The renewed Sino-U.S. trade tension has piled pressure on the yuan but market participants refrained from aggressively testing lows for fear the authorities may quickly step in.

Investors were “spontaneously” liquidating their short yuan positions, which lifted the offshore yuan from its intraday low, said a trader at a Chinese bank.

“Market will watch out for China’s possible reaction to the new round of trade tariffs. China is likely to reject the invitation from the U.S. Treasury for the new round of trade talk,” OCBC Bank said in a note on Tuesday.

Oil prices fell on worries rising trade tensions could dent global demand for crude.

U.S. crude futures CLc1 fell 21 cents to $68.70 a barrel while international benchmark Brent futures LCOc1 lost 35 cents to $77.70 per barrel.

Gold was weaker too, with spot prices XAU= down 0.1 percent at $1,199.2 an ounce.

Reporting by Swati Pandey in SYDNEY; Addition reporting by Hideyuki Sano in Tokyo; Editing by Richard Borsuk and Eric Meijer

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