Tuesday outlook: Asian markets hold steady despite threat of further tariffs

President’s lack of confidence on trade deals with China and the United Kingdom halts equity market gains; weaken sterling. More commentary on oil markets, Middle East stocks and gold prices.

A man walks past a panel displaying the Hang Seng Index during morning trading in Hong Kong, China October 11, 2018.

A man walks past a panel displaying the Hang Seng Index during morning trading in Hong Kong, China October 11, 2018.

Reuters/Bobby Yip
  • Asian markets steady despite Trump tariff threat
  • Oil prices drift downwards on Saudi output news
  • Middle East markets broadly positive
  • Dollar steady, pound declines; Gold falls slightly

Global Markets

Most global stock markets rallied on Monday, but Asian markets failed to extend gains on Tuesday morning following comments from Donald Trump in an interview with the Wall Street Journal in which he said that the United States was likely to move ahead with plans to increase tariffs on up to $200 billion worth of Chinese imports to 25 percent - up from 10 percent currently - by January 1.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia Pacific shares outside Japan dropped back 0.1 percent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index fell back by 0.41 percent, but Japan's Nikkei Index managed a gain of 0.1 percent and the Shanghai composite index gained 0.28 percent.

“Trump’s pessimistic view on the chances of a game-changing China trade deal may puncture global equity markets’ optimistic start to the week,” Sean Callow, a senior FX analyst at Westpac in Sydney, told Reuters.

“Combined with last week’s harsh report from the U.S. trade representative, investors have only the flimsiest hope that the Trump-Xi meeting in Argentina will amount to more than a hill of soybeans.”

U.S. and European markets had largely made gains on Monday after the sell-off in oil prices had hit shares at the end of last week. The S&P 500 Index finished up 0.55 percent, the Dow Jones Industrial Average index gained 1.46 percent and the Nasdaq Composite climbed by 2 percent.

In Europe, the STOXX Europe 600 Index had finished 1.23 percent higher and the FTSE 100 closed up 1.2 percent.

Oil prices

Oil prices failed to maintain earlier gains of up to 3 percent on Monday, which was viewed as a technical correction following a plunge in prices in late trading at the end of last week.

However, following stories that Saudi Arabia achieved record production figures in November, prices slipped back again, with Brent Crude futures finishing 0.17 percent, or 10 cents lower per barrel at $60.38 and West Texas Intermediate futures down 0.47 percent at $51.39 per barrel at 0322 AM on Tuesday.

Jack Allardyce, an oil analyst at financial services firm Cantor Fitzgerald Europe told Reuters that the negative sentiment surrounding oil prices seems "to have been driven by a wider impending sense of doom amidst weak equities, geopolitics, subsequent softening demand and increasing supply."

Middle East markets

Gulf markets held firm on Monday following the sell-off on Sunday in reaction to the slump in oil prices at the end of last week.

Saudi Arabia's Tadawul index gained 0.22 percent, with Saudi Industrial Exports closing 9.9 percent higher after it announced it had agreed a one-year extension to a current sales and marketing contract with Al Jouf Cement, and Saudi Arabian Refining CO rebounding on the oil price improvement, with its shares gaining 5.06 percent.

Construction company  Abdullah Abdul Mohsin Al-Khodari and Sons was one of the main fallers, with its shares declining by 3.73 percent after the firm posted nine-month results on Sunday recording a net loss of almost 26 million riyals ($6.93 million) for the third quarter of the year.

The Qatar stock exchange closed 1.02 percent higher, led by major gains in a number of the country's financial stocks. Doha Insurance rose by 6.7 percent, Al Khaliji Commercial Bank increased by 3.53 percent, The Investors Qatar was up 3.52 percent and the exchange's biggest stock, Qatar National Bank, traded 1.85 percent higher.

The Dubai Financial Market closed down 0.44 percent, with only five stocks making gains, including Emirates NBD, which closed 2.22 percent higher. Investors sold off a number of market stalwarts, though, with Dubai Investments dropping 3.45 percent, construction company Arabtec falling 3.14 percent, and Emaar Properties falling by 1.25 percent. Insurance firm GGICO saw its shared drop 8.88 percent.

The Abu Dhabi market closed 0.5 percent higher, Boursa Kuwait's Premier Market was up 0.49 percent and the Bahrain Bourse finishing 0.47 percent higher.

Oman's MSM 30 Index finished 0.73 percent lower, though, with Oman Fisheries falling 5.41 percent and Galfar Engineering and Construction down 4.12 percent.


The dollar index - measured against a basket of six major currencies, remained flat at 97.05 on Tuesday.

The pound fell by 0.18 percent against the dollar at $1.2810 and by 0.2 percent against the euro at €1.1304 by 0210 GMT, negatively impacted by President Trump's comments that the proposed deal may harm the United Kingdom’s ability to trade with the U.S.

It had traded steadily on Monday following the agreement of Brexit terms on Monday, with Lee Hardman, a currency analyst at MUFG, telling Reuters that the lack of a rally following the deal announcement suggested that "the market is pricing in that the deal won’t pass the first time in parliament”.

A vote is expected on the deal in UK parliament on December 11 after a week-long debate on the deal.

“During the next two weeks the pound will likely trade with increased volatility,” Hardman said.

Precious metals

Spot gold had fallen by 0.1 percent by 0126 GMT on Tuesday morning, while gold futures traded flat at $1,222.20 per ounce.

Although the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission said on Monday that both hedge funds and money managers had been cutting short positions in gold and silver futures contracts, China has been taking advantage of the lower gold price by buying up more physical gold, according to Reuters.

It said that China's net gold imports in October via its main conduit, Hong Kong, more than doubled in October from a seven-year low in the previous month.

(Writing by Michael Fahy; Editing by Shane McGinley)


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