Morning Report

Asia markets trade cautiously ahead of crucial Trump-Xi meeting

  • Stocks in Asia traded cautiously Wednesday morning as investors wait for an important meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping later this week.
  • National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow said Wednesday that the White House was having “a lot of communication with the Chinese government at all levels” ahead of the Trump-Xi meeting.
  • Meanwhile, Trump said he’s “not even a little bit happy” with his appointment of Jerome Powell as chair of the Federal Reserve during an interview with The Washington Post.

Asia markets were mostly cautious Wednesday morning as investors wait for an important meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping later this week.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 was 0.79 percent higher in early trade while the Topix index rose 0.35 percent, with shares of Fast Retailing advancing more than 1.9 percent. South Korea’s Kospi was largely flat.

In Australia, the ASX 200 erased most of its early losses to trade fractionally lower, with the energy sector up 0.33 percent while the heavily-weighted financial subindex was down 0.11 percent.

*US-China trade hopes*

Overnight on Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 108.49 points to close at 24,748.73 while the S&P 500 rose 0.3 percent to 2,682.20. The Nasdaq Composite closed just above the flatline at 7,082.70.

*Fed in Trump’s crosshairs*

Meanwhile, the U.S. president said he’s “not even a little bit happy” with his appointment of Jerome Powell as chair of the Federal Reserve.

During an interview with the Washington Post released on Tuesday, Trump said he thinks the U.S. central bank is “way off-base with what they’re doing.”

The Post said he blamed the Fed for the recent stock market sell-off and General Motors’ plans to close plants and cut more than 14,000 jobs. The president argued that the Fed is hurting the U.S. economy by raising interest rates.

*Currencies*

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 97.369 after rallying from the 97 handle earlier.

The Japanese yen, widely viewed as a safe-haven currency, was at 113.83 after weakening from levels around 113.4 in the previous session. The Australian dollar traded at $0.7232 after a choppy session yesterday which saw it touch lows close to the $0.72 handle.

The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) set the yuan reference rate at 6.95 vs the previous day’s fix of 6.9463

*Impact on risk*

The euro dipped earlier to $1.1288, its lowest level since mid-November. It was last trading at 1.1291.

The yen was steady at 113.77 yen per dollar, while the trade-sensitive Australian and New Zealand dollars inched higher.

*Oil edges up ahead of OPEC meeting, but sentiment still cautious*

Oil prices rose on Wednesday ahead of an OPEC meeting next week at which the producer club is expected to decide some form of supply cut to counter an emerging glut.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $52.00 per barrel , up 44 cents, or 0.9 percent from their last settlement.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) will meet at its headquarters in Vienna, Austria, on Dec. 6 to discuss output policy.

The OPEC-meeting will follow a gathering by the Group of 20 (G20) nations, which includes the world’s biggest economies, in Argentina this weekend, at which the Sino-American trade dispute as well as oil policy are expected to be discussed.

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