Asian markets track Wall St record, bankers’ meeting in focus

Asian markets rose Monday, tracking another record on Wall Street as the US appeared to tone down its anti-China rhetoric, while traders turn their attention to a meeting of central bankers later in the week.

Hong Kong led the gains, boosted by tech giant Tencent after reports said the White House is looking to reassure US firms they can still do business with the company’s WeChat messaging app in China, despite a crackdown on the service at home.

Donald Trump’s decision this month to impose sweeping restrictions against WeChat and TikTok, citing security concerns, ramped up tensions between the two superpowers that have been strained by various issues including coronavirus and Hong Kong.

The reports helped push the tech-heavy Nasdaq to yet another record on Friday, while the broader S&P 500 also reached a new high.

Hong Kong led gains across Asia, rallying 1.7 percent with traders also cheered by a pledge from China’s banking regulator that it would continue to back the city as a financial hub, after concerns were raised following the imposition of a new security law last month.

Shanghai put on 0.4 percent and Tokyo added 0.3 percent. Seoul piled on more than one percent and Taipei gained 0.5 percent. Sydney, Singapore and Wellington were also in positive territory.

Buying was also boosted by news that Trump had expanded the use of a coronavirus treatment using plasma from people who had recovered from the disease.

“Not the COVID-19 cure all the world is hoping for, but it is another positive step to help patient recovery time and get people back on their feet quicker,” said AxiCorp’s Stephen Innes.

Investors will also be keeping an eye on this week’s virtual gathering of central bankers, hoping for some guidance on their plans for monetary policy after they provided a wall of cash to support the global economy — and stock markets — during the crisis.

The main attraction is a speech by Federal Reserve chief Jerome Powell that is slated to take place on Thursday.

“More clarity will no doubt be sought via this week’s Jackson Hole symposium,” said Ben Emons, of Medley Global Advisors.

“Meanwhile, we expect the enforcement meeting to proceed smoothly within the next several weeks,” he said in reference to a review of the China-US trade pact.

– Key figures around 0240 GMT –

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 0.3 percent at 22,996.97 (break)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: UP 1.7 percent at 25,535.44

Shanghai – Composite: UP 0.4 percent at 3,393.41

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1801 from $1.1795 at 2115 GMT on Friday

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 105.75 yen from 105.78 yen

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3095 from $1.3087

Euro/pound: UP at 90.15 pence from 90.09 pence

West Texas Intermediate: UP 0.2 percent at $42.43 per barrel

Brent North Sea crude: UP 0.2 percent at $44.45 per barrel

New York – Dow: UP 0.7 percent at 27,930.33 points (close)

London – FTSE 100: DOWN 0.2 percent at 6,001.89 (close)

:AFP