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Asia stocks edge up as Trump delays tariffs on China

Lisa Micheal 5 Sep 11

Stocks in Asia traded higher Thursday afternoon amid positive developments on the U.S.-China trade front. Markets also expect further easing measures by the European Central Bank when it announces its decision on interest rates later today.

Mainland Chinese stocks rose by the afternoon, with the Shanghai composite up 0.2% and Shenzhen component adding 0.22%. The Shenzhen composite gained 0.14%.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index, on the other hand, slipped 0.15%. Shares of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited (HKEX) fell more than 3.5% following its bid for the London Stock Exchange Group (LSE). The HKEX said Wednesday a proposal to the board of LSE had been made to "combine the two companies."

Meanwhile, Anheuser-Busch InBev said on Thursday it is continuing to explore its Budweiser initial public offering in Hong Kong, two months after saying it will not proceed with the planned listing.

Elsewhere, the Nikkei 225 rose 1.02% in afternoon trade, while the Topix added 1.02%. Shares of Yahoo Japan jumped 2.35% after reports that the company will launch a takeover bid for online clothing retailer Zozo. For its part, Zozo saw it's stock surge 13.34%.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.13%.

Overall, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index gained 0.48%.

The moves in the region came as U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted Wednesday that increased tariffs on 250 billion dollars worth of Chinese goods that were set to kick in on October 1 have now been delayed to October 15 "as a gesture of good will."

Trump said the decision was made at the request of Chinese Vice Premier Liu He and in consideration of the 70th anniversary celebrations of the People's Republic of China.

U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted: "At the request of the Vice Premier of China, Liu He, and due to the fact that the People's Republic of China will be celebrating their 70th Anniversary on October 1st, we have agreed, as a gesture of good will, to move the increased Tariffs on 250 Billion Dollars worth of goods (25% to 30%), from October 1st to October 15th."

"It's hard to know ... where things are going to go but I guess if we're trading concessions that's better than trading escalations," James McCormack, global head of sovereign ratings at Fitch Ratings, told CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Thursday.

Still, McCormack added: "I think we're some distance from real resolution, I suspect if we're sitting here a year from now we'll still be talking about many of these issues."

Investors also await the ECB's decision on interest rates, set to be announced at 7:45 p.m. HK/SIN.

"Markets are shifting their attention to the ECB meeting tonight where there is a unanimous consensus for easing measures to be announced, but a great deal of uncertainty on what exactly these measures might entail," Rodrigo Catril, senior foreign exchange strategist at National Australia Bank, wrote in a morning note.

Markets in South Korea are closed on Thursday for a holiday.

Overnight stateside, the Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 227.61 points to close at 27,137.04 — its first six-day winning streak since June. The S&P 500 ended its trading day 0.7% higher at 3,000.93 while the Nasdaq Composite climbed 1% to 8,169.68, its best close since July 31.

Following Wednesday's session on Wall Street, the Dow is now less than 1% from its all-time high reached July 16 and the S&P 500 less than 1% from a record high set on July 26.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 98.638 after rising to highs around the 98.7 handle yesterday.

The Japanese yen traded at 108.12 against the dollar after weakening from levels around 106.8 earlier this week. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.6884 after seeing an earlier low of $0.6857.

Oil prices rose in the afternoon of Asian trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures adding 0.74% to $61.26 per barrel and U.S. crude futures gaining 0.93% to $56.27 per barrel.

What's on tap:

  • Europe: European Central Bank meeting and news conference at 7:45 p.m. HK/SIN
  • India: Industrial production data and Consumer Price Index at 8:00 p.m. HK/SIN

— Reuters and CNBC's Fred Imbert contributed to this report.