Asia stocks in relief rally after China-US deal

Hong Kong (AFP) –


Hong Kong and Shanghai led a surge across Asian markets Monday after the United States agreed to suspend imposing tariffs on China for three months, while oil prices soared on expectations of a big production cut.

In a much-anticipated meeting between Donald Trump and Xi Jinping at the weekend, the heads of the world's two biggest economies hammered out a deal that will see them hold off on their tit-for-tat tariffs row, which has roiled global equities for most of the year.

The US will hold off raising levies on Chinese goods on January 1 while China promised to buy more from the US and enter a 90-day period of talks to bring an end to the dispute.

If the negotiations, fail tariffs will jump from 10 percent now to 25 percent.

Trump hailed the meeting -- held on the sidelines of the G20 in Buenos Aires -- as "amazing and productive... with unlimited possibilities for both the United States and China".

The news lit a fuse under Asian markets, with Hong Kong and Shanghai each rallying more than two percent, while the Chinese yuan, which has tumbled this year on worries about the trade row, jumped.

Tokyo climbed 1.4 percent by the break, Sydney and Seoul each rose 1.6 percent, Singapore was 1.9 percent higher and Taipei piled on two percent.

"This is the best outcome that we had hoped for out of this meeting," said Frances Cheung, head of Asia macro strategy at Westpac Banking Corp.

- Oil prices surge -

However, while the early reaction was positive, observers warned there were still major issues that need to be resolved.

The "imposition of no new tariffs is not the same as retracing the existing tariffs that have come into play this year and will gradually have an impact on the US economy", said Kerry Craig, global market strategist at JP Morgan Asset Management.

"Moreover, the ideology behind the trade tensions is still about strategic positioning of the two economies, which means until issues around technology transfer and (intellectual property) are resolved, nerves will persist.

"We anticipate that things are still likely to get worse before they get better, and that the negative sentiment impact created by the trade narrative will create additional market volatility."

The news also provided a boost to oil prices, which have been battered by concerns the trade war would hit demand for the commodity.

Adding to the buying support was President Vladimir Putin saying Saturday that Russia and Saudi Arabia had agreed to renew a pact on production cuts.

Both main contracts climbed more than four percent, which provided a boost to regional energy firms with PetroChina up more than three percent in Hong Kong and Woodside Petroleum up a similar amount in Sydney.

Traders are now looking ahead to a weekend meeting of OPEC and key non-OPEC members, where they will make an announcement on how much they will cut and for how long.

"It's a huge week not only for oil markets but capital markets in general," said Stephen Innes, head of Asia-Pacific trade at OANDA.

"Post-G20 sentiment is a bit more positive than expected but still very much work in progress, so perhaps the most crucial event in December next to (Britain's) Brexit vote could very well be the OPEC summit."

The upbeat sentiment sent higher-yielding and emerging market currencies higher against the dollar. The Mexican peso was more than one percent higher, South Korea's won jumped 0.5 percent, the South African rand climbed 0.8 percent and the Australian dollar put on 0.8 percent.

- Key figures around 0230 GMT -

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 1.4 percent at 22,665.97 (break)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 2.6 percent at 27,185.66

Shanghai - Composite: UP 2.3 percent at 2,647.13

Oil - West Texas Intermediate: UP $2.27 at $53.20 per barrel

Oil - Brent Crude: UP $2.44 at $61.90 per barrel

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1343 from $1.1300 at 2200 GMT Friday

Dollar/yen: UP at 113.60 yen from 113.54

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2764 from $1.2800

New York - Dow Jones: UP 0.8 percent at 25,538.46 (close)

London - FTSE 100: DOWN 0.8 percent at 6,980.24 (close)