Asia markets try to see light in trade talks, Brexit votes

Wayne Cole, Reuters

Posted at Oct 22 2019 08:41 AM

Passersby are reflected on a stock quotation board outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan. Issei Kato, Reuters/file

SYDNEY -- Asian share markets edged ahead on Tuesday amid cheery chatter about the chance of a Sino-US trade deal, while investors were sanguine yet another vote on Brexit would still avert a hard exit.

A holiday in Tokyo kept turnover light and MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan added a slight 0.13 percent.

Futures for Japan's Nikkei were trading flat at 22,700, compared to Monday's index close at 22,548. South Korean stocks rose 0.4%, while E-Mini futures for the S&P 500 were little changed.

US President Donald Trump sounded upbeat on a China deal on Monday, while White House adviser Larry Kudlow said tariffs on Chinese goods scheduled for December could be withdrawn if talks go well.

Trade-sensitive technology stocks rose 1.1 percent, pulling the S&P 500 up 0.69 percent and near to a record closing high. The Dow gained 0.21 percent, while the Nasdaq rose 0.91 percent.

The better mood saw safe-haven bonds extend their recent pullback, with 10-year Treasury yields at a five-week peak of 1.80 percent.

In foreign exchange markets, the dollar found support against the yen at 108.60 while staying steady on a basket of currencies to 97.307.

The euro paused after its recent run higher and was last trading quietly at $1.1151.

Sterling held firm at $1.2972 after Prime Minister Boris Johnson failed to get a vote on his Brexit deal and will try again on Tuesday to get the first stage of a withdrawal bill through Parliament.

"If the House of Commons vote in favor of the deal, GBP/USD could rally towards $1.3500 over the medium term. The UK would then enter a transition period that lasts until 31 December 2020," said Kim Mundy, a currency strategist at CBA.

"If the Commons rejects the deal, GBP/USD will likely stabilize around $1.2800, because the risk of a hard Brexit will remain low," he added. "Early UK general elections would be the next most logical way forward."

In commodity markets, spot gold was idling at $1,483.70 per ounce.

Oil prices were near flat as the market fretted about the health of the global economy and the future for energy demand.

Brent crude futures inched up 7 cents to $59.03, while US crude added 9 cents to $53.40 a barrel.