SYDNEY- Asian stocks edged up, catching some of Wall Street’s momentum after surprisingly strong US jobs data although regional gains were capped by concerns about China’s economic slowdown due to the prolonged Sino-US trade war.
Japan’s benchmark Nikkei added 0.4 percent while MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan gained 0.3 percent, with Australian stocks and South Korea’s KOSPI up 0.4 percent and 0.3 percent, respectively.
China’s Shanghai Composite stood flat and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 0.2 percent.
Wall Street rose to near record highs on Friday on the strong jobs data and some signs of optimism about the US-China trade talks, with the benchmark S&P 500 closing within 0.2 percent of its peak set in late November.
US job growth increased by the most in 10 months in November as the healthcare industry boosted hiring and production workers at General Motors returned to work after a strike, in the strongest sign that the world’s largest economy is in no danger of stalling.
“This economy is still climbing and shattering the records for longevity,” said Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at MUFG Union Bank. “Right now, the clouds of recession still remain well offshore despite troubled economies elsewhere in the world and a trade war.”
Top White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on Friday that a Dec. 15 deadline is still in place to impose a new round of US tariffs on Chinese consumer goods, but President Donald Trump likes where trade talks with China are going.
Still, investors think things could change if trade tensions escalate further, especially if Trump goes ahead with the planned tariffs on some $156 billion worth of products from China in mid-December.
The market has been largely working on the assumption that those tariffs, which cover several consumer products such as cellphones and toys, will be dropped or at least postponed, given that Washington and Beijing agreed in October to work on a trade deal.
Meanwhile, China’s exports shrank for the fourth consecutive month in November, sending shivers through a market already concerned about damage being done to global demand by the trade war. But growth in imports was seen as a possible sign that Beijing’s stimulus efforts over the last two years were helping to stir demand. – Reuters