Asian markets flat after upbeat Trump trade comments

Hong Kong, Sept 26 (AFP/APP):Asian markets were mostly flat Thursday after giving up early gains on upbeat comments from US President Donald Trump that a trade deal with China could come sooner than expected and steps towards a new agreement with Japan.

Trump, in an appearance at the United Nations, said a deal with China was getting closer, sending Wall Street higher despite concerns over the launch of an impeachment inquiry against the mercurial leader.
The remarks came just a day after Trump railed against Chinese “abuses” at the UN summit, comments that had been seen as among the factors causing stocks to fall Tuesday.

Trump on Wednesday also said Washington and Tokyo had taken a major step towards sealing a comprehensive new trade deal, which will see Japan cut tariffs on $7 billion of US farm exports while the US would cut tariffs on some Japanese agricultural goods.

“Investors have been ‘trade war’ bearish for so long that any sliver of optimism is cheered,” Stephen Innes, Asia Pacific market strategist at AxiTrader, said in a note.

The Japanese deal also “suggests the president is open to an ‘interim’ trade deal, possibly signalling he is willing to negotiate one with China,” Innes said.

The Dow and S&P 500 both rose 0.6 percent while the Nasdaq closed 1.1 percent higher.
Asian markets also initially cheered Trump’s positive comments on trade but surrendered most of their early gains.

“Markets have been swayed by the president’s remarks every day… In the latest move, sentiment got a boost from the president’s positive remarks” on trade, said Makoto Sengoku, market analyst at Tokai Tokyo Research Institute.

“It eased worries for now that the spat would weigh on the global economy,” he told AFP.
Tokyo closed up 0.1 percent, with steelmakers and auto manufacturers climbing on the brighter outlook for US trade deals.

Nippon Steel gained 2.5 percent while JFE Holdings was up 3.8 percent. Among automakers Toyota climbed 1.1 percent and Nissan added 0.9 percent.

Hong Kong was flat in afternoon trade and Shanghai ended down 0.9 percent with traders cautious ahead of a weeklong holiday.

Sydney slipped 0.5 percent, Seoul was marginally higher and Singapore also saw some gains.
European markets were steady at the open, with London up 0.1 percent, Frankfurt flat and Paris down 0.1 percent.

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