Asian shares hit by trade friction, emerging market tumult; dollar up

Published: September 04, 2018 11:47:18 | Updated: September 06, 2018 11:03:14

Passersby using umbrellas struggle against a heavy rain and wind in front of an electronic stock quotation board as Typhoon Shanshan approaches Japan's mainland in Tokyo, Japan, August 8, 2018. Reuters/Files

Asian shares fell and the dollar turned higher on Tuesday as the trade dispute between the United States and China threatened to escalate this week, and as emergency austerity measures in Argentina underscored the turbulence gripping emerging markets.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS was down 0.3 per cent. Chinese blue-chips .CSI300 also fell 0.3 per cent, reversing earlier gains.

Japan's Nikkei .N225 slid less than 0.1 per cent, while Australian shares were 0.4 per cent lower ahead of a central bank policy meeting.

On Monday, European shares ended mostly flat, though a weak British pound helped to lift London's blue-chip FTSE .FTSE almost 1.0 per cent. US markets were closed for Labour Day.

But US stock market futures edged higher on Tuesday, with S&P500 E-mini futures ESc1 gaining 0.1 per cent to 2905.5.

“The majors are the focus today rather than emerging markets,” said Greg McKenna, chief market strategist at Axi Trader in Sydney, noting that weak manufacturing data and the imposition of austerity measures in Argentina had drawn the market’s attention on Monday.

“Today it’s back to where is the U.S. dollar going, and at the moment the vote in Asia has been it’s going to strengthen again,” he said.

“It’s utterly consistent that the U.S. dollar is strengthening at the same time that U.S. futures are rallying if what we’ve seen over the last two months, which is money being allocated to the U.S. and away from other regions, continues.”

The dollar index .DXY, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six major rivals, was 0.1 per cent higher at 95.253.

The dollar was up 0.05 per cent against the yen to 111.12 JPY=, while the euro EUR= was down 0.2 per cent on the day at $1.1599.

Manufacturing surveys released on Monday showed mounting stress on factories across Europe and Asia as the outlook for global trade dims.

Also on Monday, Argentine President Mauricio Macri announced new taxes on exports and steep cuts to government spending in what he termed “emergency” measures to balance next year’s budget.

The Argentine peso ARS=RASL closed 3.14 per cent weaker on Monday and is expected to face further pressure in coming days.

Turkey’s central bank signalled on Monday it would take steps to combat “significant risks” to price stability, comments seen as hinting at interest rate hikes.

The lira TRYTOM=D3, which has lost 40 per cent of its value against the US dollar this year, was 0.3 per cent weaker at 6.6400 to the dollar.

Looming Tariffs

US President Donald Trump gave fresh impetus to trade worries at the weekend when he said there was no need to keep Canada in the North American Free Trade Agreement and warned Congress not to meddle with the trade talks.

Trump was also reported to have said he is ready to impose tariffs on an additional $200 billion worth of imports from China as soon as a public comment period on the plan ends on Thursday.

“Markets are paying a little bit of attention to (Trump’s tariff threats) and wondering what might happen to European autos and, at the end of the day, what will happen with the Canadian side of NAFTA as well. There’s a lot of uncertainty there,” McKenna said.

And in a sign of new market risks, a Reuters poll pointed to a one-in-four chance that Britain will leave the European Union in March without a deal.

The yield on benchmark 10-year Treasury notes US10YT=RR rose to 2.8622 per cent versus its US close of 2.853 per cent on Friday.

The two-year yield US2YT=RR, which rises with traders’ expectations of higher Fed fund rates, touched 2.633 per cent compared with a US close of 2.629 per cent last week.

In commodity markets, US oil prices rose past the $70 per barrel mark, with production coming under pressure as two Gulf of Mexico oil platforms were evacuated in preparation for a hurricane. US crude CLc1 was 0.3 higher at $70.04 per barrel.

But Brent crude LCOc1 fell 0.1 per cent to $78.08 per barrel after India permitted its state refiners to import Iranian oil if Iran arranges tankers and insurance.

Gold was slightly lower as the dollar strengthened, with spot gold XAU= traded at $1,199.46 per ounce.

Share if you like