Asian shares gain as Biden-Xi call helps mood By Reuters


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A men wearing a mask walk at the Shanghai Stock Exchange building at the Pudong financial district in Shanghai, China, as the country is hit by an outbreak of a new coronavirus, February 3, 2020. REUTERS/Aly Song

By Alun John

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Asian shares bounced back on Friday after two days of losses, as news of a call between leaders Xi Jinping and Joe Biden offered some relief to traders struggling to interpret choppy market reactions to central banks’ cautious moves to end stimulus.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan, gained 0.8%, reversing losses in recent days to sit just 0.5% lower compared to last week’s close, in line with the global trend.

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rose 1.05%, and the broader index touched its best level since 1990, with the risk -friendly mood helping extend the rally kicked off in late August by hopes for a new government.

U.S. stock futures, the , firmed 0.27%, and in early European trading pan-region were up 0.31% and futures were up 0.28%.

U.S. President Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi spoke for 90 minutes in their first talks in seven months on Thursday, discussing the need to avoid letting competition between the world’s two largest economies veer into conflict.

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Following the announcement of the call, Chinese blue chips extended early gains to be up 1.01%, the yuan traded both onshore and offshore gained on the dollar, as the did the risk sensitive Australian dollar.

Oil also gained with up 0.66%, at $71.92 a barrel, and U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude at $68.53 a barrel, up 0.57%

However, observers cautioned against over interpreting one telephone conversation as a sign of a broader rapprochement between China and the United States, whose relations are at their lowest point in decades.

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“There were some small market moves after the news of the call, but it’s not a fundamental change, markets are still more concerned about Fed tapering and China regulation,” said Gary Ng, an economist at Natixis in Hong Kong.

“If there were a significant change in China-U.S. relations that would be different, but at the moment both sides are still accusing the other of playing politics.”

China regulation was also a factor in Hong Kong where the benchmark rose 1.74%, as traders judged a sell off in Chinese tech stocks the day before might have gone too far.

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Reports that authorities had summoned gaming firms for a talking to had spooked investors who are still struggling to interpret a series of regulatory crackdowns that have roiled sectors from property to fintech.

But traders were cautious when buying the dip.

“I think most investors will wait until the dust settles and see whether is there is enough clarity before they can act, at this point in time its extremely difficult,” said John Lau, head of Asian equities and a senior portfolio manager at SEI, referring to Chinese tech names.

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Elsewhere, Australia’s main stock index gained 0.53% as mining stocks rose after aluminium prices hit multi-year highs, and Korea gained 0.34%.

The more positive mood in Asia followed choppy trading overnight after the European Central Bank said it would slow emergency bond purchases implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic, and strong U.S. jobs data.

“Risk sentiment flip-flopped through the overnight session, initially reacting positively to the ECB meeting and evidence of ongoing strength in the U.S. labour market. However, U.S. equities ended in the red, likely reflecting concerns about the timing of central bank tapering and ongoing Delta woes,” said analysts at ANZ.

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Investors normally interpret better employment figures as a sign the Federal Reserve is less likely to delay trimming its massive asset purchases, which have been supporting share prices in recent months.

The yield on benchmark edged up in Asian hours 1.3089% compared with its U.S. close of 1.3%.

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