Sun, Sep 22, 2019 - Page 14 News List

Markets in Asia boosted as focus returns to trade


Asian markets on Friday edged up as investors turned their attention to China-US trade talks, while keeping an eye on the Persian Gulf region after last week’s airstrikes on Saudi Arabian oil facilities fanned geopolitical tensions.

With a delegation from China in the US to prepare for higher-level negotiations next month, there are hopes that the economic powerhouses can find a solution to their trade dispute that has dragged on the global economy for a year.

Stock markets have enjoyed a broadly positive month thanks to hopes for the talks, with both sides appearing to offer olive branches and sounding less confrontational than they did in July and last month.

A shift by central banks to easier monetary policies — or a desire to do so — is providing some much-needed support to equities, although there was some disappointment in the US Federal Reserve’s lack of forward guidance this week for further interest rate cuts.

Still, there is an expectation that more measures were likely on the way, with Edward Jones investment specialist Kate Warne telling Bloomberg TV: “There’s a lot more monetary stimulus coming into the system.”

In Taipei, the TAIEX on Friday edged up 34.99 points, or 0.32 percent, to 10,929.69, rising 0.9 percent from a close of 10,827.55 on Sept. 12, with turnover totaling NT$144.52 billion (US$4.67 billion).

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 on Friday closed up 34.64 points, or 0.2 percent, at 22,079.09, a gain of 0.4 percent from 21,988.29 a week earlier.

The Shanghai Composite on Friday rose 7.17 points, or 0.2 percent, to 3,006.45, dropping 0.8 percent from a close of 3,031.24 on Sept. 12.

In Seoul, the KOSPI on Friday gained 11.17 points, or 0.5 percent, to 2,091.52, surging 2.1 percent from 2,049.20 on Sept. 11.

Sydney gained 0.2 percent as investors grow optimistic that the Reserve Bank of Australia will cut interest rates again at its next policy meeting, while Singapore edged up 0.1 percent and Wellington put on 0.3 percent.

Mumbai soared more than 5 percent after the government said that it would slash corporate taxes from 30 to 22 percent in an effort to boost the sagging economy.

The new rates would be “comparable with the lowest tax rates in South Asian region and in Southeast Asia,” Indian Minister of Finance and Corporate Affairs Nirmala Sitharaman said.

However, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng on Friday closed down 33.28 points, or 0.1 percent, at 26,435.67, a fifth straight loss and a plunge of 3.4 percent from a close of 27,352.69 a week earlier. Investors were on alert for further protests in the territory following clashes between pro-democracy demonstrators and police last weekend.

Traders were also on edge in case of further attacks against Saudi Arabia following the devastating strikes that crippled two of its biggest oil plants on Sept. 14 and sent the price of crude soaring.

Both main contracts stabilized this week after the initial shock, but there have been worries of a possible conflict after the US and Saudi Arabia pointed the finger at Iran and said that they were considering their response.

Additional reporting by staff writer

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