Asian shares rise as ‘phase one’ trade deal fans confidence

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Published: December 16, 2019 6:47:31 AM

Australian shares jumped, adding 1.23%. But Japan's Nikkei 225 pulled back 0.21% after a strong rally on Friday that pushed the index to a 14-month high.

Oil prices, which had risen on Friday following the deal, cooled in early Asian trade on Monday. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude was down 0.38% at .84 per barrel.

Asian shares ticked higher on Monday as investors cheered an announced trade agreement between Beijing and Washington over the weekend although jubilation was capped by prevailing scepticism about the deal. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer on Sunday said a deal was “totally done”, notwithstanding some needed revisions, and would nearly double U.S. exports to China over the next two years.

That helped push the MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan, which had touched its highest level since April 24 on Friday, up 0.21%. Australian shares jumped, adding 1.23%. But Japan’s Nikkei 225 pulled back 0.21% after a strong rally on Friday that pushed the index to a 14-month high.

The small drop in Japanese shares also reflected continued investor trepidation over the specifics of the trade deal. “The announcement is a step in the right direction for the two nations, but does not completely reduce the chances of trade disputes between the two nations in the year,” ANZ analysts said in a morning note.

The “phase one” agreement came ahead of the deadline on Sunday for a new round of U.S. tariffs on almost $160 billion of Chinese imports. The 17-month-old trade dispute has roiled financial markets and taken a toll on world economic growth. U.S. shares had struck a cautious note on Friday, paring intial gains to end barely higher as weary investors await signs of a concrete deal.

However, the news of a deal was still enough to send the S&P 500 to a record closing high of 3,168.8, up 0.01%. The Nasdaq Composite added 0.2% to end at 8,734.88, also a record, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.01% to 28,135.38. U.S. Treasury yields moved higher on Monday, reflecting the positive mood. Benchmark 10-year Treasury notes rose to 1.8365% compared with its U.S. close of 1.821% on Friday and the two-year yield touched 1.616% compared with a U.S. close of 1.604%.

The dollar rose 0.05% against the yen to 109.403 and the euro was slightly higher at $1.1123. Sterling, which jumped last week after the UK general election produced a strong Conservative majority, notched up 0.23% to $1.3356. The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six major rivals, was down at 97.140.

Oil prices, which had risen on Friday following the deal, cooled in early Asian trade on Monday. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude was down 0.38% at $59.84 per barrel.

Spot gold prices fell 0.1%, with the precious medal trading hands at $1,473.88 per ounce.

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