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Asia Pacific stocks gain amid US-China trade developments

Key Points
  • Asia Pacific stocks mostly gained on Wednesday.
  • In-person trade negotiations between the U.S. and China will begin next week, sources told CNBC.
  • Boris Johnson is set to be the U.K.'s next prime minister after winning the ruling Conservative Party's leadership race on Tuesday.

Stocks in Asia Pacific were mostly higher on Wednesday following developments on the U.S.-China trade front.

Mainland Chinese shares rose on the day, with the Shanghai composite adding 0.8% to 2,923.28 and the Shenzhen component gaining 0.99% to 9,266.30, while the Shenzhen composite advanced 1.106% to 1,562.97.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index added 0.42%, as of its final hour of trading. Shares of cosmetic manufacturer L'Occitane jumped more than 5%, with Nomura upgrading the stock to a "buy."

Meanwhile, the S&P/ASX 200 in Australia rose 0.77% to close at 6,776.70 as most sectors saw gains.

The Nikkei 225 in Japan closed 0.41% higher at 21,709.57, while the Topix index added 0.4% to end its trading day in Tokyo at 1,575.09.

Over in South Korea, however, the Kospi fell 0.91% to close at 2,082.30.

Shares of Apple supplier LG Display dropped 3.81% after the firm reported a larger-than-expected second-quarter operating loss. The company also said it is looking to diversify its supplier base amid the ongoing diplomatic spat between Tokyo and Seoul that has seen Japan place export curbs on important materials to South Korea.

South Korea on Wednesday asked Japan to scrap its plan to remove the former from its so-called white list of minimum trade restrictions.

Overall, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index edged up 0.04%.

Asia-Pacific Market Indexes Chart

Meanwhile, Boris Johnson is set to be the U.K.'s next prime minister after winning the ruling Conservative Party's leadership race on Tuesday. Johnson has previously stated that the U.K. must leave the European Union by the October 31 deadline "do or die, come what may."

The British pound last stood at $1.2445, after seeing a high of $1.248 yesterday.

"In our view, Johnson's desire to push for Brexit, deal or no deal, increases the chance of an early general election and some possibly nasty GBP outcomes," Rodrigo Catril, senior foreign exchange strategist at National Australia Bank, wrote in a note.

US-China relations

On the trade front, in-person trade negotiations between the U.S. and China will begin next week, sources told CNBC. They said White House officials are looking at a longer-term timeline.

"Markets have been waiting for so long for (a) face-to-face meeting and it looks like it's going to happen now next week," Rob Subbaraman, head of global macro research at Nomura, told CNBC's "Street Signs" on Wednesday.

"I think it's still really early days," Subbaraman said. "There's still a long way to go in terms of ... the so-called U.S. wanting China to change its structural policies."

Furthermore, he added, the issues between the two economic powerhouses and Taiwan are "relevant" to the discussion. China's defense ministry said Wednesday that issues regarding Taiwan are becoming more acute, Reuters reported. China had earlier asked the U.S. State Department to cancel a potential $2.2 billion arms sales to Taiwan.

Subbaraman said the timing of the Wednesday's announcement from China was "interesting" and that there was a "reasonable chance" it was linked to the upcoming U.S.-China trade negotiations.

Currencies and oil

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 97.675 rising from levels below 97.5 yesterday.

The Japanese yen, widely viewed as a safe-haven currency, traded at 108.08 after touching an earlier low of 108.27. The Australian dollar was at $0.6984 after declining from levels above $0.702 in the previous session.

Oil prices rose in the afternoon of Asian trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures gaining 0.45% to $64.12 per barrel, while U.S. crude futures advanced 0.63% to $57.13 per barrel.

— Reuters and CNBC's Fred Imbert contributed to this report.