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May 20, 2019

Asia I Asia Markets Closing Report I Asian markets mixed amid geopolitical developments

Eustance Huang

Stocks in Asia were mixed on Monday amid a series of geopolitical developments across the region.
The Nikkei 225 in Japan added 0.24% to close at 21,301.73, as shares of index heavyweights such as Fast Retailing and Softbank Group advanced. The Topix also edged up fractionally to finish its trading day at 1,554.92.
The moves came after Japan’s economic growth in the first quarter rose above expectations.
Japan’s economy grew at an annualized 2.1% in the first quarter, gross domestic product (GDP) data showed on Monday, beating market expectations for a 0.2% contraction.
In South Korea, the Kospi closed flat at 2,055.71.
The ASX 200 in Australia rose 1.74% to close at 6,476.10, after Australia’s conservative coalition secured an outright parliamentary majority on Monday following a shock election victory.
The financial subindex Down Under surged 5.85%, with shares of Commonwealth Bank of Australia jumping 6.27% and National Australia Bank advancing 7.90%. Australia and New Zealand Banking Group also surged 7.78%, while Westpac skyrocketed 9.21%.
The Australian dollar was last higher at $0.6926, though it remained lower than levels above $0.696 seen last week.
Over in India, the Nifty 50 jumped 2.9% after exit polls showed Prime Minister Narendra Modi was likely to return to power following the country’s general election.
In mainland China, however, shares ended the trading day lower. The Shanghai composite slipped 0.41% to 2,870.60 and the Shenzhen component shed 0.93% to 8,916.11. The Shenzhen composite also fell 0.75% to 1,521.72.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index slipped more than 0.5%, as of its final hour of trading.

Asia-Pacific Market Indexes Chart

Shares stateside slipped last Friday on the back of reports that trade negotiations between the U.S. and China have hit a pause. Sources told CNBC that scheduling discussions for further trade talks have been put on hold since U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration has increased scrutiny of Chinese telecom companies. A U.S. delegation had earlier been invested to Beijing.
“My read on the situation is that the two parties are ... quite a long way apart at this point,” Mark Jolley, global strategist at CCB International Securities, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Monday. “They’ve been negotiating for quite a long period of time now and ... it appears that we haven’t made too much progress.”
Over the weekend, Reuters reported that Alphabet’s Google has suspended some business with Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei.
Huawei Technologies will immediately lose access to updates to the Android operating system, and the next version of its smartphones outside of China will also lose access to popular applications and services including the Google Play Store and Gmail app, according to the Reuters report.
Last week, the administration made it harder for U.S. companies to do business with Huawei, a giant telecommunications company in China. U.S. firms that want to do business with Huawei must now have a license.
“Huawei has 12 months worth of chips already lined up ... in reserve, in stock that it can use. And so, that gives it plenty of time to reengineer its supply chain and so, actually what this is doing it potentially ... it’s putting American suppliers really under pressure rather than anyone else,” Paul Gambles, co-founder and managing partner of MBMG Group, told CNBC’s “Street Signs” on Monday.
The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 98.027 after touching lows below 97.2 last week.
The Japanese yen, widely seen as a safe-haven currency, traded at 110.15 against the dollar after seeing levels below 109.2 last week. The offshore Chinese yuan traded at 6.9386 against the greenback after falling to an earlier low of 6.9480. It’s onshore counterpart traded at 6.9089.
Oil prices gained in the afternoon of Asian trading hours, with the international benchmark Brent crude futures contract adding 1.34% to $73.18 per barrel. The U.S. crude futures contract also gained 1.32% to $63.59 per barrel.
— Reuters contributed to this report.

Source: CNBC

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