HONG KONG, H.K. – Most markets in Asia opened today’s session in a holding pattern as it awaits on the scheduled signing of phase one of the trade deal between the US and China later today.
The long-awaited signing of the initial trade deal that will hopefully start the efforts of ending the trade war between the US and China is scheduled later on Wednesday, but the morning session in the Asian markets has not been without tension and drama.
Early in the morning, a statement from the US government surprised Wall Street, saying that the existing tariffs will continue even after the signing of the initial agreement. According to Steve Mnuchin, the US Treasury Secretary, the tariffs imposed on Chinese imports would remain in place until an agreement for phase two is finalized.
In anticipation of the phase one of trade deal signing between two of the largest economies in the world, financial markets expected that a partial tariff rollback would be announced, at the very least, as a part of the signing. But with the recent statement from the US, Wall Street was facing a flight delay early today, with US treasury yields starting to ease while major equities going slightly lower.
Meanwhile, President Trump clearly intends to ensure that the trade momentum isn’t going to stall even after the signing scheduled today, with one eye focused on the election set in November.
Despite the unexpected move from the US, China is expected to continue with the signing today, although its response about the US strong-arming them for phase two of the trade negotiations is still unknown. But, with the Chinese New Year coming along in a few days, a likely response from the Chinese government is not expected until after the national holiday.
Meanwhile, Indonesia reported better data for its Balance of Trade early in the day, suggesting that the recovery of South East Asia stays on track in the first quarter of the year. Compared to the forecasted $0.5 billion declines, the Balance of Trade was mostly flat, with the export numbers reaching the positive territory after gaining 1.28% from the previous 6.3% decline in November and December’s flat.
In the equities front, most of the US equities lost its intra-day advances overnight, following the reports that no tariff cutoffs are expected even after the trade deal signing. Major indices on Wall Street were trading flat, although the sell-down was looking as a corrective move rather an alteration of the market’s sentiment.