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Asia Pacific stocks edge up as US announces some tariff delays

Key Points
  • Stocks in Asia Pacific edged up on Wednesday as the U.S. announced a delay in the implementation of tariffs on some Chinese goods.
  • Tensions in Hong Kong remained high after the city's airport saw disruptions for a second day on Tuesday as a result of ongoing protests.
  • Shares of Apple suppliers in Asia mostly jumped on Wednesday afternoon, after the Cupertino-based tech giant saw its stock surge more than 4% on Tuesday after U.S. President Donald Trump's administration announced tariffs on electronics would be delayed till December.

Stocks in Asia Pacific edged up on Wednesday as the U.S. announced a delay in the implementation of tariffs on some Chinese goods.

Shares in mainland China rose on the day, with the Shanghai composite gaining 0.42% to 2,808.91 and the Shenzhen component adding 0.72% to 8,966.47. The Shenzhen composite also advanced 0.692% to 1,509.00.

The United States Trade Representative announced Tuesday certain products are being removed from the tariff list and will not face additional tariffs of 10%. Other tariffs will be delayed to Dec. 15 for certain goods, it said.

"A cynical view then is that the delay is purely for political timing rather than a more substantive change in the US' approach to the US-China relationship," Tapas Strickland, an economist at National Australia Bank, wrote in a note.

"Overall a high degree of (skepticism) should remain and an imminent deal is unlikely given Trump has foreshadowed he is going to be campaigning hard on the issue in the 2020 election," Strickland said.

Meanwhile, the Hang Seng index in Hong Kong was fractionally lower, as of its final hour of trading. Tensions in Hong Kong remained high after the city's airport saw disruptions for a second day on Tuesday as a result of protests.

"In the near term, Hong Kong police might take tougher action and China might be looking to resolve this issue one way or the other way, which is going to be negative for the markets," Suresh Tantia, senior investment strategist at the Credit Suisse APAC CIO office, told CNBC's "Street Signs" on Wednesday.

"We are advising client(s) to cut their exposure towards Hong Kong equity markets and move towards more South Asia markets like Indonesia," Tantia said.

Elsewhere, Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 0.98% to close at 20,655.13, while the Topix index also advanced 0.87% to end its trading day at 1,499.50.

Over in South Korea, the Kospi gained 0.65% to close at 1,938.37, Australia's S&P/ASX 200 also rose 0.42% on the day to 6,595.90.

Overall, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index added 0.62%.

Yuan watch

The People's Bank of China set its official midpoint reference rate for the yuan at 7.0312 per dollar on Wednesday, stronger than analyst expectations and the fifth consecutive session where the central bank fixed the midpoint at a level weaker than the psychologically important 7-yuan-per-dollar mark.

The onshore yuan last traded at 7.0137 against the greenback, while its offshore counterpart changed hands at 7.0308 per dollar.

The yuan has been closely watched by investors since it weakened past 7 per dollar last week, leading the U.S. Treasury Department to label China a currency manipulator.

Asia-Pacific Market Indexes Chart

Apple suppliers mostly jump

Shares of Apple suppliers in Asia mostly jumped on Wednesday, after the Cupertino-based tech giant saw its stock surge more than 4% on Tuesday after U.S. President Donald Trump's administration announced tariffs on electronics made in China would be delayed till December.

In Japan, Taiyo Yuden jumped 6.27% and Murata Manufacturing surged 3.33%. Japan Display, on the other hand, dropped 4.62%. Last week, the embattled display maker announced its 10th straight quarterly loss.

Over in South Korea, LG Display added 1.58%, while Taiwan's Pegatron added 0.4% and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company jumped 1.22%. Hong Kong's Sunny Optical skyrocketed 8.85%, as of its final hour of trading

China industrial output disappoints

Data from the National Bureau of Statistics in China on Wednesday showed the country's industrial output in July rising at its slowest in 17 years.

Industrial output rose 4.8% in July as compared to a year earlier, official data showed — its slowest since February 2002. That was much lower than expectations of a 5.8% growth from a year earlier by analysts in a Reuters poll.

Retail sales growth was also weaker than expected, rising 7.6% in July from a year earlier. Analysts surveyed by Reuters had expected growth of 8.6%.

Dollar holds on to gains

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 97.768 after surging from levels below 97.5 yesterday.

The Japanese yen, often seen as a safe-haven currency, traded at 106.36 against the dollar after weakening sharply from levels below 105.5 in the previous session. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.6779 after jumping from levels below $0.676 yesterday.

Oil prices declined in the afternoon of Asian trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures sliding 0.93% to $60.73 per barrel. U.S. crude futures fell 1.3% to $56.36 per barrel.

— Reuters and CNBC's Yun Li contributed to this report.