Asian shares up, yuan at 5-mth high as Biden-Xi call stokes optimism

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Asian shares scaled a 2-1/2-week top as investors cheered a cordial opening to a key meeting between U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping, which helped nudge China’s yuan to a five-month high and pulled the dollar broadly lower.

FILE PHOTO: A woman wearing a protective mask, amid the COVID-19 outbreak, walks past an electronic board displaying Japan and other countries’ stock indexes outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan, September 21, 2021. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

Biden and Xi Jinping started their closely-watched talks warmly, with both leaders stressing their responsibility to the rest of the world to avoid conflict, with the Chinese leader calling the U.S. President an “old friend”.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.27% to its highest level since Oct. 27, while Tokyo’s Nikkei gained 0.4%.

The talks began at 0046 GMT Tuesday and Chinese state media reported they concluded at 12:24 p.m. (0424 GMT) in Beijing.

“The video call is so important because I do think tensions between the two countries are easing and I guess the overall market sentiment will continue to improve,” said Dickie Wong, executive director for research at Hong Kong based Kingston Securities.

Sino-U.S. ties have endured a prolonged period of tensions under the former Trump administration and both sides have recently escalated a war of words over a broad array of contentious issues including Taiwan as well trade and technology.

The see-sawing tensions between the world’s two top economies have jolted global markets at various times over the past few years, so any optimism coming out of the talks would be seen as a boon to riskier assets.

The friendly opening to the talks helped push the onshore and offshore yuan higher in morning trade, with the onshore spot price hitting a high of 6.3666 per dollar, the strongest since June 1.

In share markets, Chinese blue chips rose 0.5% and the Hong Kong benchmark jumped 1%, also underpinned by property stocks after suggestions of an easing in policy curbs on the sector.

“So far we haven’t seen a loss of confidence in certain developers and the government has come out more forcefully to ensure that homeowners are protected,” said David Chao global market strategist for Asia Pacific (ex-Japan) at Invesco.

An index of Hong Kong listed mainland Chinese developers rose as much as 3%. However, shares of Kaisa Prosperity, a property services unit of embattled developer Kaisa Group, tumbled 13.5% as trading resumed a day after the company said its parent’s liquidity issues would not impact operations. [L4N2S70BD]

U.S. stock futures, were flat on Tuesday, after Wall Street had closed little changed as rising Treasury yields dented appetite for technology stocks but boosted interest in financials. [.N][US/]

Benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury yields inched down on Tuesday and were last at 1.6008% though still up sharply since hitting a one-month low of 1.42% hit one week ago, a major factor in the dollar’s overall strength.

The dollar, however, edged lower in reaction to the improved sentiment following the Biden-Xi call, losing ground on the euro, which bounced almost 0.2% off a 16-month low and was last at $1.1381.

The currency markets are also being driven by the differing responses from global central banks to rising inflation pressures.

European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde on Monday pushed back on market bets for tighter monetary policy, saying doing so now to rein in inflation could choke off the euro zone’s recovery. The dovish tone left the euro struggling to shake off the bears.

Britain will publish its September labour market report later on Tuesday, which analysts at CBA said “could make or break the case for a rate hike this year”.

Later in the day, U.S. retail sales, trade prices and industrial production for October are also due, giving another hint about the health of the world’s biggest economy.

In oil markets, U.S. crude rose 0.59% to $81.36 a barrel. Brent crude rose 0.76% $82.68 per barrel. [O/R]

Gold was steady, with spot gold up 01% at $1,864 an ounce, just off Monday’s five month high of $1,870. [GOL/]

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