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Asia Pacific stocks edge up as US announces some tariff delays

Lisa Micheal 6 Aug 13

Stocks in Asia Pacific edged up on Wednesday as the U.S. announced a delay in the implementation of tariffs on some Chinese goods.

Shares in mainland China rose on the day, with the Shanghai composite gaining 0.42% to 2,808.91 and the Shenzhen component adding 0.72% to 8,966.47. The Shenzhen composite also advanced 0.692% to 1,509.00.

The United States Trade Representative announced Tuesday certain products are being removed from the tariff list and will not face additional tariffs of 10%. Other tariffs will be delayed to Dec. 15 for certain goods, it said.

"A cynical view then is that the delay is purely for political timing rather than a more substantive change in the US' approach to the US-China relationship," Tapas Strickland, an economist at National Australia Bank, wrote in a note.

"Overall a high degree of (skepticism) should remain and an imminent deal is unlikely given Trump has foreshadowed he is going to be campaigning hard on the issue in the 2020 election," Strickland said.

Meanwhile, the Hang Seng index in Hong Kong was fractionally lower, as of its final hour of trading. Tensions in Hong Kong remained high after the city's airport saw disruptions for a second day on Tuesday as a result of protests.

"In the near term, Hong Kong police might take tougher action and China might be looking to resolve this issue one way or the other way, which is going to be negative for the markets," Suresh Tantia, senior investment strategist at the Credit Suisse APAC CIO office, told CNBC's "Street Signs" on Wednesday.

"We are advising client(s) to cut their exposure towards Hong Kong equity markets and move towards more South Asia markets like Indonesia," Tantia said.

Elsewhere, Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 0.98% to close at 20,655.13, while the Topix index also advanced 0.87% to end its trading day at 1,499.50.

Over in South Korea, the Kospi gained 0.65% to close at 1,938.37, Australia's S&P/ASX 200 also rose 0.42% on the day to 6,595.90.

Overall, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index added 0.62%.

Data from the National Bureau of Statistics in China on Wednesday showed the country's industrial output in July rising at its slowest in 17 years.

Industrial output rose 4.8% in July as compared to a year earlier, official data showed — its slowest since February 2002. That was much lower than expectations of a 5.8% growth from a year earlier by analysts in a Reuters poll.

Retail sales growth was also weaker than expected, rising 7.6% in July from a year earlier. Analysts surveyed by Reuters had expected growth of 8.6%.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 97.768 after surging from levels below 97.5 yesterday.

The Japanese yen, often seen as a safe-haven currency, traded at 106.36 against the dollar after weakening sharply from levels below 105.5 in the previous session. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.6779 after jumping from levels below $0.676 yesterday.

Oil prices declined in the afternoon of Asian trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures sliding 0.93% to $60.73 per barrel. U.S. crude futures fell 1.3% to $56.36 per barrel.

— Reuters and CNBC's Yun Li contributed to this report.