Asia shares turn sluggish ahead of Trump speech

Wayne Cole, Reuters

Posted at Nov 12 2019 08:45 AM

US President Donald Trump delivers remarks at a Veterans Day Parade and Wreath Laying ceremony in Manhattan, New York City, US, Nov. 11, 2019. Andrew Kelly, Reuters

SYDNEY -- Asian share markets got off to a sluggish start on Tuesday amid uncertainty over both the Sino-US trade talks and the domestic political situation in Hong Kong.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan eased 0.05 percent, following a sharp 1.2 percent pullback on Monday.

Japan's Nikkei dithered either side of flat, while South Korean stocks inched up 0.3 percent. E-Mini futures for the S&P 500 was off 0.1 percent in quiet trade.

Caution ruled ahead of a speech by US President Donald Trump to the Economic Club of New York later in the day in case there was any new word on the Sino-US Phase one trade deal.

Trump wrongfooted markets over the weekend when he said there had been incorrect reporting about US willingness to lift tariffs on China.

On a more positive note, Politico reported Trump would announce this week that he is delaying a decision on whether to slap tariffs on imported European Union autos for another six months.

Investors were also eyeing the situation in Hong Kong after a violent escalation of protests knocked nearly 2 percent off Asia-exposed banks HSBC and StanChart.

A partial holiday in the United States closed the Treasury market on Monday and made for a quiet session on Wall Street. The Dow ended up 0.04 percent, while the S&P 500 lost 0.20 percent and the Nasdaq 0.13 percent.

Shares of Boeing Co jumped 4.5 percent after saying it expected US regulators to approve the return to commercial service of its grounded 737 MAX jet in the coming weeks, and expects commercial service to resume in January.

In currency markets, the main action was in sterling which hit a six-month high on the euro after the Brexit Party said it would not contest previously Conservative held seats in the UK election.

In a significant boost for Prime Minister Boris Johnson ahead of the Dec. 12 election, Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage said he did not want anti-Brexit parties to win, so was standing down candidates in seats won by the Conservatives in 2017.

The pound reached 0.8582 per euro, and firmed to $1.2864 having risen 0.6 percent overnight.

The dollar also eased back elsewhere, dipping to 98.210 on a basket of currencies.

The euro edged up to $1.1035 and away from a three-week low of $1.1015, while the dollar faded to 109.02 yen .

Spot gold suffered a third day of declines, to touch its lowest since early August at $1,447.89 per ounce.

Oil prices edged lower as the lack of progress on US-China trade negotiations kept prices pressured, though bullish inventory data offered some support.

US crude lost 22 cents to $56.64 a barrel, while Brent crude futures were yet to trade.