Trade Talks Recommence as Shutdown Negotiations Fail
Asian markets were modestly higher on Monday afternoon as traders expressed renewed optimism that talks between U.S. and Chinese officials would bring the feuding countries one step closer to a long-term trade agreement. Chinese indexes, coming back from a week-long closure to celebrate the Lunar New Year, saw the steepest gains after the commerce ministry announced that retail earnings during the holidays spiked 8.5 percent from the period last year, even as the country faces a continually slowing economy. The Shenzhen Composite was up 2.82 percent as of 2:56 p.m. HK/SIN, and the Shanghai Composite was up 1.25 percent.
Other Asian indexes were also trading higher, including South Korea’s Kospi, which was up 0.17 percent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index, which was 0.51 percent higher. Japan’s Nikkei 225 bucked the uptrend, trading down 2.01 percent in the mid-afternoon. Another round of trade negotiations began in Beijing on Monday, with high-level representatives expected to participate later in the week.
The U.S. dollar clung to six-week highs as traders remained committed to safe-haven assets in light of the continuing negotiations. The dollar index was unchanged, standing at 96.63 .DXY, while the dollar soared 0.24 percent against the yen, to 109.97. The greenback struggled against the British pound, trading down 0.12 percent to $1.2931, and it was relatively stable against the euro, trading at $1.1326.
Traders remained cautious, however, after weekend negotiations related to the U.S. government shutdown failed to make the desired progress. Negotiators were hoping for a deal by today to give Congress ample time to pass the necessary legislation by Friday, when last month’s federal funding deal expires. However, the negotiations stalled because the Democrats want Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials to focus on detaining migrants with criminal records, while Republicans want to target immigrants who have overstayed their visas, and neither side was willing to budge. Still, some traders remain hopeful that a deal will be reached before Friday’s deadline.