Asian stocks broadly higher as trade fears ease

Investors sit watching share prices at an Asia Commercial Bank (ACB)'s securities trading floor in Hanoi on August 22, 2012. Vietnam's largest stock market keeps plunging after Vietnam police arrested Nguyen Duc Kien, a top banking tycoon on suspicion of illegal business activities. The benchmark VN Index on the Ho Chi Minh City Stock Exchange fell 1.59 percent at 410.23 on August 22, extending yesterday's 4.7 percent plunge, the biggest drop since October 2008. AFP PHOTO/HOANG DINH Nam

HONG KONG, April 5, 2018 (BSS/AFP) – Asian stocks were mainly higher during the opening skirmishes Thursday, taking their cue from a stronger session on Wall Street as investors judged recent trade war fears were overblown.

Tokyo led the gainers, climbing a solid 1.5 percent as the more positive market sentiment reduced demand for the safe-haven yen, pushing the currency down.

The dollar fetched 106.83 yen in early Asian trade, up slightly from 106.82 yen in New York and 106.56 yen in Tokyo on Wednesday.

This normally boosts Tokyo stocks as a cheaper yen makes life better for exporters. Sony and Toyota were both among the gainers.

Seoul was up more than half a percentage point, as was Sydney.

Hong Kong and Shanghai were closed for public holidays.

The more bullish outlook for stocks came on the heels of another see-saw session on Wall Street that saw equities rally impressively into the close.

Traders have been spooked by tit-for-tat accusations and measures between China and the United States that some fear could lead to a full-blown trade war between the world’s top two economies.

China unveiled plans early Wednesday to hit major US exports in retaliation for US tariff plans detailed the day before.

The Dow whipsawed nearly 800 points between its session low and peak before finishing with a gain of one percent at 24,264.30.

Analysts said the catalyst for the turnaround was comments by recently appointed White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow, who suggested President Donald Trump’s strident approach to China was a negotiating tactic to win concessions.

“I understand the stock market anxiety. I get that,” Kudlow told Fox Business. “I think at the end of this whole process, the end of the rainbow, there’s a pot of gold.”

The eventual rally in the US was too late to buoy the major European markets, which finished in the red — London down 0.1 percent, Paris 0.2 percent and Frankfurt off 0.4 percent.

A more “risk-on” feeling among investors also propelled oil markets higher, with both Brent and the WTI up around 20 cents.

– Key figures around 0230 GMT –

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 1.5 percent at 21,646.10
Hong Kong – Hang Seng: 29,518.69 (closed)
Shanghai – Composite: 3,131.84 (closed)
Dollar/yen: UP at 106.83 yen from 106.82 at 2100 GMT
Euro/dollar: UP at $1.2281 from $1.2278 at 2100 GMT
Pound/dollar: UP at $1.4084 from $1.4080 at 2100 GMT

Oil – Brent North Sea: UP 21 cents at $68.24 per barrel
Oil – West Texas Intermediate: UP 17 cents at $63.54 per barrel

New York – Dow: UP 1.0 percent at 24,264.30 (close)
London – FTSE 100: UP 0.1 percent at 7,034.01 (close)