Asian shares rise as weak sentiment caps gains

Andrew Galbraith, Reuters

Posted at Nov 15 2019 09:29 AM

Asian shares rise as weak sentiment caps gains 1
Traders work on the floor at the post where Boeing is traded at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York. Brendan McDermid, Reuters/file

SHANGHAI -- Asian equities rose on Friday after the S&P 500 index notched a new record closing high, but investor sentiment remained fragile following weak data from China and Germany, which reinforced concerns about the global economy.

Early in the Asian trading day, MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 0.34 percent. Japan's Nikkei added 0.58 percent and Australian shares gained 0.53 percent.

The safe-haven yen weakened, with the dollar rising 0.11 percent to buy 108.50 yen. The euro was unchanged at $1.1021 and the dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six major rivals was flat at 98.163.

Providing a fillip to investor confidence in Asia were comments from White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow that Washington was getting close to a trade agreement with China.

Higher US Treasury yields also indicated a slight risk-on tone in the Asian session, with the 10-year yield rising to 1.8307 percent from a US close of 1.815 percent on Thursday.

The policy-sensitive two-year yield rose to 1.6036 percent from 1.593 percent on Thursday after US Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said the risk of the US economy facing a dramatic bust was remote.

A Reuters poll of more than 100 economists showed that while concerns have eased over a US recession, few see an economic rebound, and most believe a trade truce is unlikely in the coming year.

Global sentiment has been buffeted in recent weeks by conflicting assessments of progress in talks between the United States and China aimed at ending their 16-month-long trade war.

On Thursday, China's commerce ministry said that the two countries are holding "in-depth" discussions on a first phase trade agreement, and that cancelling tariffs is an important condition to reaching a deal.

China has also ended a nearly five-year ban on imports of US poultry meat, which the US Trade Representative said would lead to more than $1 billion in annual shipments to China.

Those developments followed comments from officials from both countries last week that they had a deal to roll back tariffs, only to have US President Donald Trump deny that any such deal had been agreed to.

The new record for the S&P, which gained just 0.08 percent to 3,096.63, came despite a grim outlook from network gear maker Cisco Systems that underlined the impact of trade uncertainty.

The company forecast second-quarter revenue and profit below expectations as increasingly global economic uncertainties kept clients away from spending more on its routers and switches, sending its shares down 7.3 percent.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.01 percent 27,781.96 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 0.04 percent to 8,479.02.

European shares also fell after data showed the German economy grew just 0.1 percent in the third quarter, with consumer spending helping the country to avoid a mild contraction.

"In further diminishing the likelihood of significant fiscal stimulus from the Berlin government, it was not good news at all," analysts at National Australia Bank said in a morning note.

The German data followed numbers from China indicating a faster-than-expected slowdown in factory output growth in October due to weak domestic and global demand.

In commodity markets, US crude prices rebounded after sliding Thursday on rising US crude inventories. US West Texas Intermediate crude was 0.37 percent higher at $56.98 a barrel.

Gold retreated from gains prompted by trade uncertainty. Spot gold was last trading at $1,466.98 per ounce, down 0.27 percent.