By Marketwatch and Associated Press
Asian markets mostly gained in early trading Friday as U.S. Federal Reserve officials prepare to meet in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
Fed Chairman Jerome Powell is scheduled to speak Friday morning to kick off the annual conference, and investors will be looking for the central bank’s thoughts about the chances of recession following an inversion of the yield curve last week. But as MarketWatch has reported, economists believe the Fed is likely to keep its policy thoughts to itself.
Meanwhile, tensions between Japan and South Korea rose, as an intelligence-sharing deal became the latest casualty of a bitter trade dispute. South Korea said Thursday it would stop sharing intelligence about North Korea with its Asian neighbor. Last month, Japan revoked South Korea’s preferential trade status. South Korea accuses Japan of weaponizing trade to punish it over a separate dispute linked to Japan’s brutal colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula from 1910 to 1945.
Japan’s Nikkei /zigman2/quotes/210597971/delayed JP:NIK -0.42% rose 0.2% while South Korea’s Kospi /zigman2/quotes/210598069/delayed KR:180721 +1.92% inched up 0.1%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index /zigman2/quotes/210598030/delayed HK:HSI +0.13% gained 0.6% and the Shanghai Composite /zigman2/quotes/210598127/delayed CN:SHCOMP +1.09% advanced 0.5%. Benchmark indexes in Taiwan /zigman2/quotes/210597977/delayed TW:Y9999 +1.18% , Singapore /zigman2/quotes/210597985/delayed SG:STI +1.27% and Indonesia /zigman2/quotes/210597981/delayed ID:JAKIDX +1.46% were down slightly. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 /zigman2/quotes/210598100/delayed AU:XJO +0.34% rose 0.2%.
Among individual stocks, convenience-store chain FamilyMart rose in Tokyo trading, as did Nippon Steel /zigman2/quotes/209782682/delayed JP:5401 +2.87% , while Japan Post /zigman2/quotes/201414839/delayed JP:6178 -0.04% fell amid a continuing investigation into its sales practices. In Hong Kong, insurers AIA Group /zigman2/quotes/203565558/delayed HK:1299 -2.79% and China Life Insurance /zigman2/quotes/202359856/delayed HK:2628 +0.23% gained, while property stocks such as Country Garden /zigman2/quotes/201681083/delayed HK:2007 -1.33% fell. SK Hynix /zigman2/quotes/206420319/delayed KR:000660 +3.31% advanced in South Korea, and Foxconn /zigman2/quotes/204111604/delayed TW:2354 +0.58% gained in Taiwan. In Australia, Wesfarmers /zigman2/quotes/204567133/delayed AU:WES -0.24% and Fortescue Metals /zigman2/quotes/202351558/delayed AU:FMG +3.89% rose.
China’s onshore yuan last traded at 7.0909, its weakest level since 2008. The People’s Bank of China may be “sending a message” to U.S. trade hawks that it “will let the yuan gradually weaken as a policy weapon to neutralize the effect of increased tariffs,” Stephen Innes, managing partner of Valour Markets, said in a note.
“While the markets are currently sitting in a state of currency-war detente, with the PBoC possibly putting one of their trade wars cards on the table, it’s not the cheeriest of signals for risk assets in my views,” he said.