HONG KONG: Asian investors trod cautiously Thursday as they try to ascertain the state of play in the China-US trade row, while the pound edged higher on growing optimism Britain will not crash out of the European Union.
The long-running US government shutdown continued to rankle, with Democrats and Donald Trump digging their heels in over the president’s border wall budget demand, while a White House official warned it could hammer the world’s top economy.
For a second day equities swung to and fro, with few solid catalysts to drive trade, though Wall Street provided a positive lead as all three main indexes ended higher following upbeat earnings from the likes of market titans Procter & Gamble and IBM.
In early trade Hong Kong was down 0.1 percent and Shanghai slipped 0.3 percent while Tokyo ended the morning 0.4 percent lower.
Sydney was 0.1 percent off and Seoul edged up 0.2 percent while Singapore added 0.3 percent and Wellington eased 0.1 percent. Taipei, Manila and Jakarta edged up.
Trump on Wednesday gave an upbeat assessment of the state of affairs in the trade stand-off, saying “we’re doing very well in the negotiations” and that China “wants to make a deal”.
However, dealers will take the remarks in their stride in a week that has seen the White House deny Financial Times and CNBC reports that officials had rejected Beijing’s offer of preparatory discussions ahead of next’s high-level talks in Washington.
Earlier Bloomberg said the two sides were struggling to see eye to eye on the delicate issue of intellectual property.
BMW, Daimler to invest 1b euros
BERLIN: German auto giants BMW and Daimler said Friday they would invest one billion euros ($1.1 billion) in combining and extending their carsharing schemes, in future offering a slew of joint “mobility services”, including for electric cars.
“We are pooling the strength and expertise of 14 successful brands and investing more than one billion euros to establish a new player in the fast-growing market for urban mobility,” Dieter Zetsche, chief executive of Mercedes-Benz maker Daimler said in a statement.
Asian markets mixed after Fed minutes, eyes on trade talks
HONG KONG: Asian markets were mixed Thursday after the Federal Reserve left open the possibility it could lift interest rates this year, while investors kept an optimistic eye on China-US trade talks.
Equities and other risk assets have enjoyed a stellar start to the year on hopes for the negotiations as well as expectations the US central bank will slow its pace of monetary tightening — with some even tipping a cut — as growth both at home and globally slows.
On Wednesday, the Fed minutes showed its policy board was concerned about the outlook and trade tensions, and said US growth would “step down” from last year’s rapid pace.
It also said it expects to continue to wind down its balance sheet of securities and other assets — which helps keep borrowing costs down — but added “it was not yet clear” what rate moves “may be appropriate later this year”.
The minutes showed there could be another hike if price pressures pick up.
Analysts said there was still a possibility of more increases in borrowing costs this year, after four in 2018.
“The debate is still focused on whether to tighten or not, and not whether to cut,” said Lou Crandall, chief economist at Wrightson ICAP LLC. “The risk is tilted in the direction of more tightening.”
In morning trade, Hong Kong was flat and Shanghai dipped 0.1 percent while Tokyo went into the break 0.1 percent lower.
Sydney rose 0.4 percent, Singapore slipped 0.2 percent and Seoul was off 0.3 percent. Wellington added 0.7 percent, Taipei was barely moved and Manila lost 0.5 percent.
Crunch time as high-level US-China trade talks resume
WASHINGTON: With eight days left in their trade truce, top US and Chinese officials were due Thursday to return to the daunting task of bridging a chasm between the world’s two largest economies.
US President Donald Trump has repeatedly claimed the talks with Beijing are going “very well,” but concrete signs of progress have not been apparent in the three months since the two sides agreed to pause their trade war.
Analysts say the distance separating Washington and Beijing and the short time remaining before the March 1 deadline make it likely the outcome would feature banner announcements but would fall short of Trump’s most far-reaching goals.
“I think the consensus of people that have been following this thing is that they’re not making nearly as much progress as the president tweets that they’ve been making,” said William Reinsch, a former US trade official now at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Chinese trade envoy Liu He will lead Beijing’s delegation in meetings with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and other American officials Thursday and Friday as they work to head off an escalation of US tariffs.
This fourth round of negotiations follow two days of preliminary talks at the deputy level.
Trump this week said a March 1 deadline to reach a deal was in fact “not a magical date,” raising hopes that he could delay the plan to more than double duties on $200 billion in Chinese goods.
China’s party-owned Global Times late Tuesday warned raising US tariffs would amount to “a catastrophic strike” on global stock markets, which have been buffeted for months by the uncertainty and the prospects for slower global growth.
Since July, Washington and Beijing have hit each other with tariffs on more than $360 billion in two-way trade, weighing on the manufacturing sectors in both countries.
Washington has demanded that Beijing reverse much of its industrial policy, charging that China has sought global dominance through the alleged theft of American technology, massive subsidies and the promotion mammoth state-owned enterprises.
US officials have stressed that any agreement must have teeth to ensure that China keeps its promises.