Singapore and other Asia markets whipsawed after contrasting reports on US-China trade talks

Wall Street rose Wednesday on hopes of progress in US-China trade talks, but stocks pared gains after Chinese officials said Beijing had lowered expectations for negotiations.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan eased 0.31 per cent while Japan’s Nikkei slip 0.11 per cent.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan eased 0.31 per cent while Japan’s Nikkei slip 0.11 per cent.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

TOKYO (BLOOMBERG) - Thursday morning (Oct 10) was not one for coffee breaks for traders in Asia, with markets whipsawed by contrasting headlines on the chances of some sort of progress in critical US-China trade talks.

Futures on the S&P 500 Index initially fell sharply on concerns that the negotiations - scheduled for Thursday and Friday in Washington - might be cut short. They erased most of the losses after news from Bloomberg that next week’s tariff hike could be suspended and a report from the New York Times that President Donald Trump could let some US companies supply Huawei Technologies Co.

Japanese shares also recouped most of their decline, while South Korean ones were still well down. Hong Kong and Shanghai edged up. The yuan climbed after sliding earlier, and the yen dipped after seeing early gains. Crude oil was also whipsawed, erasing most of its early losses. Treasuries ticked higher.

Futures on the S&P 500 Index were down 0.1 per cent as of 11:22am in Tokyo after dropping as much as 1.3 per cent. The underlying gauge had risen 0.9 per cent Wednesday.

Japan’s Topix Index was down 0.1 per cent after sliding 1.1 per cent earlier. South Korea’s Kospi Index fell 0.8 per cent while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 was little changed.

The Shanghai Composite rose 0.4 per cent while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index was up 0.4 per cent.

Singapore’s Straits Times Index recouped nearly all its early losses to trade down 2.37 points to 0.08 per cent to 3,087.54 as at 11am.


Following is the sequence of events on Thursday:

The South China Morning Post reported that deputies had made no progress in talks before the principal negotiations. The paper said Vice Premier Liu He would also cut the scheduled talks short by a day, and depart Washington onThursday.

Bloomberg and other media reported that there was no change in the schedule, with talks set to continue on Friday.

Fox Business reported anew that the talks would be one day.

Bloomberg said the White House is looking at rolling out a previously agreed currency pact with China as part of an early harvest deal that could also see a tariff increase next week suspended.

The New York Times said the Trump administration would soon issue licenses to US companies to supply non-sensitive goods to Huawei.

The Financial Times said the US is weighing options to crack down on shipments of contraband goods from China.

“The market is bracing for more headlines -- which can be confusing -- in the next two days; investors may want to keep their position light,” said Frances Cheung, head of Asia macro strategy at Westpac Banking Corp. “A partial deal is the key, as a ‘great deal’ is very unlikely to be reached at this stage, with China reluctant to touch on some structural issues,” she said.