Asia Markets

Asia markets close mostly positive as investors look to US-China tariff talks

Key Points
  • Asia markets mostly closed higher on Monday following a report that Chinese and American negotiators are working to de-escalate the trade dispute between the two countries.
  • A nine-member delegation from Beijing will hold meetings with U.S. officials on this week, according to the Wall Street Journal.
  • Commentators said that development gave markets some reason for optimism and paused the appreciation in the U.S. dollar.

Asia markets mostly rose on Monday, following a higher finish on Wall Street Friday after a report said China and U.S. negotiators are working on a plan to end a trade dispute that would result in meetings between President Donald Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping in November.

Japan's closed 71.38 points, or 0.32 percent, to 22,199 while the Topix declined 5.38 points, or 0.32 percent, to close at 1,692.15.

In South Korea, the Kospi closed near flat at 2,247.88.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index rose 1.25 percent as of 3:36 p.m. HK/SIN as major casino stocks advanced. Wynn Macau shares jumped 8.65 percent.

Chinese mainland markets closed in positive territory, as the gained 1.11 percent to 2,698.47 while the Shenzhen composite ended the trading day 0.602 percent up at 1,451.07.

Australia's ASX 200 closed near flat at 6,345. The materials sector rose 1.12 percent while the heavily weighted financials subindex fell 0.52 percent.

Shares of Australia's major banks fell: ANZ declined 0.76 percent, Commonwealth Bank was lower by 0.92 percent and Westpac fell 0.63 percent. The National Australia Bank erased gains to trade down 0.28 percent.

Meanwhile, shares of major miners traded up with Rio Tinto adding 0.31 percent, Fortescue gaining 1.19 percent and BHP rising by 1.31 percent.

Fortescue said on Monday that its annual profit halved as prices for its lower quality iron ore fell, Reuters reported. The miner said that its underlying net profit after tax came at $1.08 billion, down from $2.13 billion a year ago.

U.S. and China officials are reportedly working on a plan to hold talks to end a trade dispute between the two countries that would result in meetings between Trump and Xi at a summit in November, according to the Wall Street Journal.

A nine-member delegation from Beijing will hold meetings with U.S. officials on Aug. 22 and Aug. 23, the report said, citing officials from both countries. On Thursday, the two governments announced lower-level trade talks later this month aimed at resolving their escalating tariff war.

The news that the U.S. and China were reportedly drawing up plans to settle the ongoing trade dispute gave markets some reprieve and paused the dollar's appreciation, according to analysts.

"This has given markets some reason for optimism that a de-escalation of Sino-US trade tensions is possible one side or other of November's US mid-term elections," Ray Attrill, head of foreign exchange strategy at the National Australia Bank, said in a morning note.

In particular, the news resonated in the currency market where the Australian dollar and the New Zealand dollar saw "pronounced" gains, according to Attrill.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of currencies, traded at 96.230 as of 3:36 p.m. HK/SIN, compared to levels above 96.500 reached in the previous week.

DBS Bank analysts said in a morning note that the appreciation of the dollar paused ahead of the U.S.-China talks later this week.

"Washington officials, however, appear more interested in discussing the Chinese yuan's rapid depreciation in recent months while Beijing officials assess America's intentions to contain China," the analysts said.

The onshore yuan traded at 6.8511 to the dollar while the offshore yuan was at 6.8439 at 3:37 p.m. HK/SIN.

Among other currency pairs, the Japanese yen traded at 110.63 to the dollar at 3:37 p.m. HK/SIN, strengthening from levels above 110.8 last week. The Australian dollar traded at $0.7304 while the New Zealand dollar was at $0.6614.

CNBC's John Schoen contributed to this report.