Asian stocks extend gains amid relief over lack of trade escalation

  • Asian stocks closed higher on Friday, with Japan leading the gains in regional markets.
  • The lack of escalation in trade tensions between the U.S. and China likely supported improved sentiment.
  • China’s trade surplus with the U.S. grew last month.

Asian shares closed higher on Friday, extending gains after Wall Street rebounded as technology stocks there touched all-time highs. There was also some relief coming from the lack of escalation in trade tensions between the U.S. and China.

Japan led gains in the region, with the benchmark Nikkei 225 jumping 1.85 percent, or 409.39 points, to close at 22,597.35 as stocks extended Thursday’s gains, with the yen weaker on the day. The services sector led broad gains on the index, with electric appliances and textiles sectors also rising more than 1 percent. Among index heavyweights, Fast Retailing advanced 6.95 percent after posting robust earnings overnight while Fanuc gained 1.94 percent.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index edged higher by 0.23 percent by 3:28 p.m. HK/SIN, with consumer goods and services contributing to overall gains before the market close. Mainland indexes finished the Friday session mixed, with the Shanghai composite slipping 0.22 percent to 2,831.55 but the Shenzhen composite adding 0.46 percent to end at 1,604.45.

Elsewhere, South Korea’s Kospi climbed 1.13 percent to close at 2,310.90 as technology and banks notched gains. Australian stocks, meanwhile, were steady, with the S&P/ASX 200 ending the day flat at 6,268.40.

MSCI’s index of Asia Pacific shares excluding Japan added 0.44 percent in Asia morning trade.

Friday’s extended recovery in markets also followed the relative calm on the trade front overnight, with the Chinese commerce ministry saying Thursday that China had not been in touch with the U.S. about restarting trade talks, according to Reuters.

Meanwhile, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday that bilateral talks on trade could resume on the condition that China was open to making “serious efforts” to change, the news agency said.

“Markets found some relief overnight on a lack of trade escalation and perceptions that China is taking a slightly more conciliatory tone,” ANZ analysts said in a morning note.

The firmer footing in Asian markets came after U.S. stocks rebounded on Thursday, given a boost by the surge in the technology sector as investors turned their attention once more to earnings season. The Nasdaq composite gained 1.39 percent to end at 7,823.92, recording its largest one-day gain since June 1. Other U.S. indexes also posted gains.

Global markets had earlier slumped on Wednesday after the Trump administration released a list targeting $200 billion in Chinese goods with a 10 percent tariff. The duties are set to take effect only after going through a review process.

The unveiling of the list came after U.S. tariffs on $34 billion in Chinese goods took effect last week. Chinese tariffs on the same amount of U.S. products also kicked in last Friday.

Asian equities later recouped those losses in subsequent sessions, with major markets finishing the week higher. The Nikkei closed the week higher by 3.71 percent. That was the index’s largest weekly gain since March by a Reuters calculation. The Shanghai composite rose more than 3 percent in the week.

In currencies, the dollar strengthened against the yen to trade at 112.69 at 3:24 p.m. HK/SIN, earlier touching a six-month high overnight. The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of currencies, stood at 95.049.

On the economic front, Chinese exports in dollar terms rose 11.3 percent in June, compared to one year ago, slightly beating expectations, Reuters said. Dollar-denominated imports rose 14.1 percent, missing the 20.8 percent increased forecast.

Of note, China’s trade surplus with the U.S. grew to $28.97 billion last month. The new surplus is the highest on record, according to Reuters calculations.

— CNBC’s Huileng Tan contributed to this report.

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