Asia Pacific stocks higher; investors watch U.S.-China tensions – CNBC

Stocks in Asia Pacific rose on Tuesday, with investors continuing to watch for the reopening of economies as coronavirus containment measures are eased.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 added 1.19% to close at 22,325.61 as shares of index heavyweight and conglomerate Softbank Group surged 3.33% while the Topix index finished its trading day 1.21% higher at 1,587.68. South Korea’s Kospi also closed 1.07% at 2,087.19.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index saw gains as well, rising 0.78%, as of its final hour of trading. Mainland Chinese stocks nudged higher on the day, with the Shanghai composite up 0.2% to about 2,921.40 while the Shenzhen component was fractionally higher at approximately 11,112.50.

Elsewhere, the S&P/ASX 200 in Australia closed 0.27% higher at 5,835.10.

Overall, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index rose 0.63%.

“The global health and financial crises now appear to be largely under control,” Joseph Capurso, head of international economics at Commonwealth Bank of Australia, wrote in a note. “The high frequency indicators we follow suggest the global economy is recovering from recession , even if a v-shaped recovery is unlikely.”

In a statement released Tuesday announcing the Reserve Bank of Australia’s (RBA) decision to maintain its current policy settings, RBA Governor Philip Lowe said: “Over the past month, infection rates have declined in many countries and there has been some easing of restrictions on activity.”

“If this continues, a recovery in the global economy will get under way, supported by both the large fiscal packages and the significant easing in monetary policies,” Lowe said.

Developments on recent tensions between the U.S. and China likely weighed on investors sentiment.

Reuters reported Monday, citing sources, that China has told state-owned firms to pause on purchases of soybeans and pork from the U.S. That came on the back of U.S. President Donald Trump’s recent announcement that he would begin taking action to eliminate Hong Kong’s special treatment, following China’s approval of a controversial new national security bill for the city.

Bank of Singapore’s Eli Lee said the purchase targets outlined in the “phase-one” trade deal between Beijing and Washington were “a stretch in any case.”

“With the unexpected impact of the Covid-19 crisis, by our estimates it is now almost impossible that the Chinese will hit these targets,” Lee, who is head of investment strategy at the firm, told CNBC’s “Capital Connection” on Tuesday. “It wouldn’t be surprising that the Chinese are withdrawing purchases, likely to get as much leverage as they can before a renegotiation going forward.”

Currencies and oil

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 97.861 after slipping from levels above 98 seen on Monday.

The Japanese yen traded at 107.78 per dollar after weakening from levels around 107.4 yesterday. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.6799 after seeing an earlier high of $0.6813.

Oil prices edged higher in the afternoon of Asian trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures up 1.02% to $38.71 per barrel. U.S. crude futures gained 0.73% to $35.70 per barrel.

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