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Asia markets inch higher ahead of trade talks; Bank of Japan keeps interest rates steady

Lisa Micheal 4 Jul 29

Stocks in Asia Pacific edged up on Tuesday as investors awaited developments from U.S.-China trade talks this week in Shanghai. The Bank of Japan also opted to keep monetary policy steady.

The Nikkei 225 in Japan rose 0.43% to close at 21,709.31, with shares of index heavyweight Fanuc jumping 3.14%. The Topix index added 0.45% to finish its trading day at 1,575.58.

Over in mainland China, the Shanghai composite added 0.39% to close at 2,952.34, while the Shenzhen component rose 0.48% to finish its trading day at 9,399.10. The Shenzhen composite gained 0.452% to close at 1,582.07.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index pared losses from Monday to bounce back in early trade following yesterday's press conference, when Beijing reiterated their firm support for the city's embattled leader Carrie Lam amid protests over an extradition bill. It also suggested there will not be a change in its management of Hong Kong in the near future. The index was up 0.24%, as of its final hour of trading.

Chinese tech giant Tencent's shares rose 0.75%, with the company announcing Monday that it would cooperate with Qualcomm on gaming devices and 5G.

In South Korea, the Kospi rose 0.45% to close at 2,038.68 following a slump on Monday, with shares of index heavyweight Samsung Electronics gaining 0.98%.

Over in Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.28% to close at 6,845.10 — eclipsing the previous record set in November 2007.

Overall, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index added 0.21%.

Meanwhile, U.S.-China trade negotiations are set to happen in Shanghai this week as the two economic powerhouses seek to reach a deal to end a protracted trade dispute.

The Bank of Japan kept monetary policy steady on Tuesday but said that it "will not hesitate to take additional easing measures" if the economy loses momentum toward achieving the target inflation rate of 2%.

The Japanese central bank also said it intends to maintain the "current extremely low levels" of short- and long-term interest rates for an extended period of time, at least through around spring 2020. The Japanese yen last traded at 108.64 against the dollar after seeing an earlier low of 108.94.

Government data released earlier on Tuesday showed Japan's factory output falling more than expected in June.

"In a world whereby we're seeing synchronized monetary easing, the BOJ has got to keep up with ... the dovish tones going ahead into the second half of this year," Francis Tan, investment strategist at UOB Private Bank, told CNBC's "Street Signs" on Tuesday.

The U.S. Federal Reserve is widely expected to cut its benchmark lending rate for the first time since 2008 by 25 basis points. Its rate decision is set to be announced on Wednesday stateside. The European Central Bank last week also signaled a potential rate cut and more monetary easing ahead.

"I think it's baked in the cake that the Fed is gonna cut 25 basis points, Steve Goldman, managing director at Kapstream Capital, told CNBC's "Capital Connection" on Tuesday.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 98.167 after rising from levels below 98.0 yesterday.

The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.6900 following declines from levels above $0.702 seen last week.

Oil prices rose in the afternoon of Asian trading hours, as international benchmark Brent crude futures added 0.69% to $64.15 per barrel and U.S. crude futures gained 0.67% to $57.25 per barrel.

— CNBC's Thomas Franck contributed to this report.