Asian shares rise, but U.S. tariff plan puts focus back on trade war

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Asian shares were higher on Wednesday, tracking the firmer Wall Street finish though reports that Washington plans to raise tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods have put the focus back on volatile Sino-U.S. trade relations.

A woman walks in strong wind caused by Typhoon Lan, past an electronic board showing the graphs of the recent movements of Japan’s Nikkei average outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan, October 23, 2017. REUTERS/Issei Kato – RC1442136C90

Global markets inched higher on Tuesday, helped by a Bloomberg report that the U.S. and China were seeking to resume trade talks to defuse the battle over import tariffs.

However, later reports that the U.S. plans tariffs of 25 percent on $200 billion in Chinese imports have injected some uncertainty back into financial markets, with the offshore yuan and the Australian dollar lower.

A source told Reuters that an announcement on Washington’s tariff plans for China could come as early as Wednesday.

In Asia, MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 0.2 percent, while Japan’s Nikkei stock index gained 0.6 percent. S&P E-mini futures were flat at 2816.5 after earlier edging higher.

“Solid U.S. data helped boost risk sentiment; however it was the news that (U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve) Mnuchin and (Chinese Vice Premier) Liu He are speaking again that sparked a bigger risk rally,” ANZ analysts said in a note, referring to the U.S. Treasury secretary and the Chinese vice premier.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.43 percent to 25,415.19, the S&P 500 gained 0.49 percent to 2,816.29 and the Nasdaq Composite added 0.55 percent to 7,671.79.

In China, investors brushed off trade war fears, with the Shanghai Composite index up 0.5 percent in early trade. Blue-chip shares also gained 0.5 percent.

Tech shares across the region may get a boost after Apple Inc. beat Wall Street expectations for its quarterly results thanks to robust sales of its top-of-the-line iPhone X.. The company’s shares rose 3.4 percent to $196.80 in after-hours trade.

Investors will also be watching data from around the region, including manufacturing activity numbers from China, for indications of the outlook for the global economy.

Data from Australia showed a slowdown in manufacturing activity in July, with the Commonwealth Bank/Markit purchasing managers index at its lowest level in nearly two years.

Australian shares ticked down 0.1 percent after earlier moving higher on Wednesday.

Policy meetings of the U.S. Federal Reserve on Wednesday and the Bank of England on Thursday will also keep some investors on the sidelines, although the U.S. central bank is expected to keep rates unchanged.

The yield on benchmark 10-year Treasury notes was at 2.9617 percent, compared with its U.S. close of 2.964 percent on Tuesday.

The two-year yield, which rises with traders’ expectations of higher Fed fund rates, touched 2.6694 percent compared with a U.S. close of 2.669 percent.

The dollar was flat against the yen at 111.85.

The euro was down 0.1 percent the day at $1.1685. The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six major rivals, gained 0.1 percent to 94.564.

U.S. crude dipped 0.7 percent at $68.29 a barrel. Brent crude gave up 0.4 percent to $73.89 per barrel.

Spot gold fall 0.1 percent to $1,222.09 per ounce. [GOL/]

Reporting by Andrew Galbraith; Additional reporting by Laila Kearney in NEW YORK; editing by Richard Pullin and Sam Holmes

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