Asian markets mostly rose on Friday, with investors treading carefully as China-US trade talks ended with no deal, but with both sides sounding notes of optimism and setting up more high-level meetings later this month.
After the much-anticipated gathering, US President Donald Trump hailed “tremendous progress” between the world’s top two economies, but warned that the “hard deadline” of March 1 remained in place, after which US tariffs on billions of US dollars of Chinese goods would be imposed.
For its part, Beijing said that the two sides held “candid, specific and fruitful” discussions and had agreed to increase cooperation on intellectual property — a major source of White House anger with China — and boost imports of US goods.
Trump’s top two economic officials are to visit Beijing later this month, after which he said that he would meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) to hammer out a final deal.
While the negotiations ended with no agreement, “for the markets, which are clearly in ‘risk-on’ mood, it was a case of no news is good news,” Oanda Corp senior market analyst Jeffrey Halley said.
However, an early surge across the region petered out to leave markets mixed.
Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 on Friday ended up 14.9 points, or 0.1 percent, at 20,788.39, edging up 0.1 percent from a close of 20,773.56 on Jan. 25.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng on Friday was mostly flat, sliding 11.73 points to 27,930.74, a decline of 1.3 percent from 27,569.19 a week earlier.
The Shanghai Composite on Friday gained 33.66 points, or 1.3 percent, to 2,618.23, rising 0.6 percent from a close of 2,601.72 on Jan. 25.
In Seoul on Friday, the KOSPI slid 1.39 points, or 0.1 percent, to close at 2,203.46, a 1.2 percent gain from 2,177.73 a week earlier.
Sydney and Singapore were flat, while Manila, Mumbai, Bangkok and Jakarta were all up.
“The statement certainly signals progress, but at best limited progress on the core long-term structural issues that separate the two sides,” Cornell University trade policy professor Eswar Prasad told Bloomberg News.
“The statement ends with a not-so-veiled threat that China will need to offer more substantive concessions to enable a deal that would take further tariffs off the table,” Prasad said.
The tepid movement in markets also came after an impressive month that saw Hong Kong pile on more than 8 percent and Tokyo more than 4 percent, a much-needed bounce after a hammering in December last year.
In Taipei on Wednesday, the last trading session in the Year of the Dog, local shares closed 0.67 points higher on the Taiwan Stock Exchange to end at 9,932.26 points.
That was a decline of 0.4 percent from a close of 9,969.61 on Jan. 25.
The TAIEX, the key barometer on the bourse, opened at 9,915.97, moving between 9,909.81 and the day’s high of 9,959.03. Turnover totaled NT$99.102 billion (US$3.223 billion).
The weighted index fell by a total of 488.83 points, or 4.69 percent, in the Year of the Dog, which translated into an average loss of NT$125,000 per retail investor.
Stressing that the relatively thin turnover indicated cautious sentiment among investors who were reluctant to hold stocks through the Lunar New Year holiday, which began yesterday, market analysts said that the TAIEX is likely to encounter more pressure when it reaches 10,300 and 10,500 points.
There is little chance that the index will pass 10,500 points after it reopens on Feb. 11, with a low of about 9,400 expected if the global stock market retrenches, they said.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (台積電), the most heavily weighted stock on the local market and one of the major “Apple concept stocks,” slid 0.67 percent to close at NT$221.
Shares in Largan Precision Co (大立光), a smartphone camera lens supplier to Apple Inc, ended unchanged at NT$3,780, and Hon Hai Precision Industry Co (鴻海精密), the world’s largest electronic products maker, closed up 0.14 percent at NT$70.
Looking beyond this year, the prospects for the local and global economies remain grim over the long term, market analyst Kevin Lin said.
Lin forecast that a trade war between the US and China could continue into the second quarter, with uncertainties arising from the dispute difficult to dispel in the short term.
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