Asia Markets

Asian shares edge higher amid trade tensions and ahead of central bank meetings

Key Points
  • Asian markets edged higher on Monday, shaking off the cautious mood seen earlier.
  • Trump is set to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in a summit on Tuesday.
  • U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew his support for the final G-7 communique.
  • The Federal Reserve, European Central Bank and Bank of Japan are also due to meet later in the week.

Markets in the region mostly closed higher on Monday, shrugging off the cautious mood seen earlier as investors focused on a mix of trade tensions and a landmark meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Japan's turned more positive through the session, with the index closing higher by 0.48 percent, or 109.54 points, at 22,804.04 amid broad gains. Energy-related stocks climbed, with the Topix oil and coal products subindex rising 1.72 percent. Gains were also seen in the retail and technology sectors.

Elsewhere, South Korea's benchmark Kospi rose 0.76 percent to 2,470.15, outperforming other regional markets as manufacturing names advanced. Daewoo Engineering and Construction surged 6.43 percent, Posco gained 3.33 percent and Hyundai Cement popped 29.86 percent.

Hong Kong's added 0.43 percent by 3:05 p.m. HK/SIN, but mainland stocks were downbeat. The slipped 0.48 percent to end at 3,052.36, but was off its intraday low.

MSCI's broad index of shares in Asia Pacific excluding Japan edged higher by 0.34 percent in Asia afternoon trade. Markets in Australia, meanwhile, were closed on Monday.

Trade tensions and the Trump-Kim summit

Investors kept an eye on trade tensions between the U.S. and its traditional allies, including Canada and the European Union. U.S. President Donald Trump on the weekend withdrew his support for a G-7 declaration and criticized Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for being "dishonest and weak."

The Trump administration had applied tariffs on aluminum and steel tariffs on other G-7 members ahead of the G-7 summit last week. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the EU was preparing its own countermeasures against the U.S., Reuters reported.

"The G-7 meeting over the weekend did not bode well for risk sentiment ... [a]lthough market reaction was mainly constrained to the Canadian dollar," said OCBC Bank analysts in a morning note.

Meanwhile, a planned summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that's taking place in Singapore on Tuesday is expected to take center stage. Both arrived in the country on Sunday and are set to make history as the first sitting leaders of their respective countries to meet face-to-face.

Most analysts do not think markets will be substantially affected by the meeting.

"Although the 'Capella' summit in Singapore is capturing public attention, the direct impact on markets is likely to be limited," said Tai Hui, chief market strategist for Asia Pacific at J.P. Morgan Asset Management, adding that central bank meetings are likely to prove more critical this week.

The Federal Reserve, European Central Bank and Bank of Japan are due to meet in the days ahead. The Fed is expected to announce an interest rate hike and the ECB has said it will be discussing how it will wind down its asset-purchasing program.

U.S. stocks closed slightly higher on Friday, with major indexes finishing the week higher despite caution over trade-related tensions playing out at the G-7 summit, which concluded on Saturday. The major averages rose at least 1.2 percent for the week.

The gains notched stateside on Friday were in contrast to declines seen in European and Asian markets in the last session, with the pan-European Stoxx 600 slipping 0.21 percent. MSCI's index of shares in Asia Pacific excluding Japan had fallen more than 1 percent in the previous session.

The dollar was mostly steady against a basket of currencies, with the dollar index standing at 93.443 at 3:02 p.m. HK/SIN. Against the yen, the greenback edged up to 110.04.

In individual movers, shares of Hong Kong Aircraft Engineering (HAECO) jumped 54.66 percent by 3:12 p.m. HK/SIN after Swire Pacific said it intended to privatize the former. Swire has a roughly 74.99 percent stake in HAECO.