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Asia Pacific stocks mostly edge higher as U.S.-China tensions linger

運営事務局 JIMOPLE 3 July 17, 2020

Stocks in Asia Pacific mostly edged higher on Friday following Thursday's drop that saw shares in China plunging more than 4%.

Mainland Chinese stocks recovered from an earlier decline to close higher on Friday. The Shanghai composite added 0.13% to about 3,214.13 while the Shenzhen component advanced 0.913% to around 13,114.94. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index rose 0.69%, as of its final hour of trading.

South Korea's Kospi advanced 0.8% to close at 2,201.19.

Japan stocks bucked the overall trend among the region's major markets. The Nikkei 225 dipped 0.32% to close at 22,696.42 while the Topix index shed 0.33% on the day to 1,573.85.

Over in Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 closed 0.38% higher at 6,033.60.

Overall, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index advanced 0.7%.

"Asian equities are still quite cheap relative to global equities," Dan Fineman, co-Head of Asia Pacific equity strategy at Credit Suisse, told CNBC's "Street Signs" on Friday.

"On a number of grounds Asia in general looks good, but if you wanna focus within the region I think you're best to emphasize the more developed economies," Fineman said.

Places such as Singapore, South Korea and Australia have "much more capacity" for fiscal stimulus, he added: "The key to recovery in the medium term after the pandemic passes is government support." 

Friday's moves followed a sharp Thursday fall in Chinese stocks along with U.S. jobless claims data that missed expectations. The initial jobless claims figure stateside came in at 1.3 million for the week ending July 11, the Labor Department said Thursday. That compared against expectations of 1.25 million by economists polled by Dow Jones.

Tensions between Washington and Beijing may also have weighed on investor sentiment. Reuters reported Thursday, citing a source, that U.S. President Donald Trump's administration is considering banning travel stateside by all members of the Chinese Communist Party and their families.

Meanwhile, Singapore's trade data released Friday showed a surge in non-oil domestic exports (NODX) for June. NODX for June soared 16.1% as compared to a year ago, beating expectations of a 6.2% increase by economists in a Reuters poll. The data release came after the country's latest gross domestic product numbers, released earlier this week, came in worse than analysts' forecast and showed the nation's economy entering a technical recession.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 96.257 following its decline from levels above 96.4 seen earlier in the trading week. 

The Japanese yen traded at 107.11 per dollar, in a turbulent trading week that has seen the currency going from levels around 107.4 to below 106.8 against the greenback. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.699 after seeing levels around $0.7 yesterday.

Oil prices were lower in the afternoon of Asian trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures down 0.71% to $43.06 per barrel. U.S. crude futures also dipped 0.61% to $40.50 per barrel.