Asian equities rose Wednesday on bargain-buying after the previous day’s battering, but investors remain anxious as the threat of a China-US trade war hangs over markets. Shanghai and Hong Kong bore the brunt of the sell-off Tuesday after Beijing warned it would retaliate in kind to Donald Trump’s threat of tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of Chinese goods, amounting to much of its exports to the US.
The standoff follows weeks of fruitless talks between the world’s two biggest economies, with the White House accusing China of a string of unfair practices including cyber-theft and forced technology transfers that are hurting American jobs and companies. Tuesday’s developments surprised many traders who had characterised Trump’s protectionist rhetoric as part of a strategy to get a better deal from China.
Trump senior economic aide Peter Navarro continued the forceful language Tuesday by saying China had more to lose from a trade war because it shipped more to the US. He also maintained the administration was acting “to defend the crown jewels of American technology from China’s aggressive behaviour”. Navarro said the White House was open to talks but warned: “The fundamental reality is talk is cheap. Delay is expensive.”
Still, traders stepped back in to pick up beaten-down equities Wednesday. Hong Kong was up 0.8 percent in the afternoon after dropping 2.8 percent Tuesday, while Shanghai ended up 0.3 percent—a small dent in the previous day’s 3.8 percent loss. Tokyo ended 1.2 percent higher while Sydney gained by a similar percentage, Singapore added 0.7 percent and Seoul put on one percent. There were also gains in Wellington, Taipei and Bangkok.
In early European trade London rose 0.8 percent and Frankfurt gained 0.5 percent. “Markets are faring much better as investors’ emotions have tempered, but in general, markets remain in wait and see mode,” said Stephen Innes, head of Asia-Pacific trading at OANDA.—AFP