Asian stocks drift sideways as Trump-Xi meeting approaches

A currency dealer walking in front of screens showing South Korea's benchmark stock index (left) in a trading room at the KEB Hana Bank in Seoul, on March 16, 2017.
A currency dealer walking in front of screens showing South Korea's benchmark stock index (left) in a trading room at the KEB Hana Bank in Seoul, on March 16, 2017.PHOTO: AFP

HONG KONG (REUTERS) - Asian stocks are set for a cautious start on Wednesday (April 5) as investors move to the sidelines before a potentially tense meeting between Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping later this week.

Energy counters bucked the broad trend after a bounce in oil prices on Tuesday thanks to an unplanned production outage in the North Sea and growing concerns about diminishing US oil stocks.

US crude rose to US$51.30 per barrel on Tuesday, its highest since March 8 before settling at US$51.14 per barrel in opening trades on Wednesday.

That pushed energy and related shares up on Wall Street and helped reverse losses on the broader market. Main US indexes closed between 0.1 to 0.2 per cent higher.

Wall Street's meagre gains are unlikely to provide much support to Asian stocks as investors remain wary of taking fresh positions before a landmark summit for Presidents Trump and Xi on Thursday and Friday.

It will be their first face-to-face meeting since Trump took office on Jan 20, with trade and security issues set to figure prominently.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was flat with early Asian markets such as Australia and South Korea slightly higher.

Major currencies traded in a narrow range ahead of the release of minutes from the Fed's March meeting when it raised interest rates, and before the big US jobs report on Friday.

The US dollar edged 0.1 per cent higher to 110.82 yen against the Japanese currency.

The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six trade-weighted peers, was broadly flat at 100.49. The euro was a shade stronger at US$1.06810.

Gold was trading at US$1,255.21 per ounce, just below a one-week high hit in the previous session.

 

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