Asian markets mostly up ahead of key meetings in China and US

Hong KongUpdated: Dec 17, 2018, 10:02 AM IST

File photo. Photograph:(Getty)

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There is still caution on trading floors after Friday's sharp sell-off fuelled by concerns over China's economy.

Asian markets mostly rose Monday as traders look ahead to a key meeting of the Federal Reserve, and a Chinese policy-setting conference this week.

However, there is still caution on trading floors after Friday's sharp sell-off fuelled by concerns over China's economy, and despite a tweet from Donald Trump suggesting a trade deal could be hammered out between Washington and Beijing.

While there are signs the world's top two economies are beginning to move towards a resolution in their bitter tariffs spat, there are increasing concerns about the global outlook following another dour set of indicators out of China.

A string of below-par readings this year have highlighted a slowdown in the Asian giant and observers are forecasting leaders will unveil fresh measures to pep up the economy, which is on course for another year of relatively weak growth.

A speech from President Xi Jinping to mark 40 years since China's economy began opening up will be closely followed Tuesday, and that is expected to be followed by a start of a conference setting out the country's 2019 economic plan.    

"We should expect a raft of stimulus measures from China policymakers in an attempt to stabilise the domestic economy," said Stephen Innes, head of Asia-Pacific trade at OANDA.

The Fed will conclude its rate-setting policy meeting Wednesday and while expectations are for another hike in borrowing costs, comments from chairman Jerome Powell will be closely watched for an idea of its plans for 2019.

In light of the China-US trade row and signs of weakness in the global economy, the bank has sounded a little more dovish in recent weeks, fuelling speculation it will slow down its pace of rate hikes -- which has provided some much-needed support to equities.

"The upcoming (Fed) meeting and China's policy-setting meeting, have been the most actively discussed topics around the markets," Innes added. 
"And both events have a smoothing effect on risk sentiment." 

In early business, Hong rose 0.2 per cent, Shanghai edged up 0.1 per cent and Tokyo finished the morning 0.8 per cent higher while Sydney put on 0.5 per cent and Singapore jumped 1.3 per cent.

Seoul added 0.2 per cent and Taipei gained 0.3 per cent but Wellington lost 0.3 per cent.

Steve Goldman, fund manager at Kapstream Capital, told Bloomberg TV in Sydney that "we're going to see a lot of volatility" in the new year because of global uncertainty.

Hopes that China and the US can reach a deal to end their trade war were given a boost by Trump Friday, when he tweeted: "China wants to make a big and very comprehensive deal. It could happen, and rather soon!" 

That came after China earlier in the day backed off fresh levies imposed this summer on US-made cars and auto parts.

While a full-blown deal is some way off, the developments have provided some hope to dealers.

On currency markets the pound remains bogged down around 20-month lows as Prime Minister Theresa May struggles to win concessions from EU leaders over her

Brexit agreement, which a majority of lawmakers in Westminster oppose.

Facing growing calls for another referendum to break the deadlock, May is expected to tell MPs that such a move will do "irreparable damage" to British politics.

However, with her agreement all but dead in the water, there is a growing expectation Britain will leave the EU without a deal, which commentators warn could hammer the British economy.