Asia looks on bright side of Brexit, trade talks

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By Wayne Cole

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Asian shares made guarded gains on Tuesday amid optimism about prospects for a Sino-U.S. trade deal, while investors were sanguine yet another vote on Brexit would still avert a hard exit for Britain.

A holiday in Tokyo kept turnover light and MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan () added a modest 0.4%.

Futures for Japan’s Nikkei () were trading at 22,760, compared to Monday’s index close at 22,548 (). South Korean stocks () rose 0.9% but Shanghai blue chips () slipped 0.2%.

E-Mini futures for the S&P 500 () gained 0.17% and EUROSTOXX 50 futures () 0.14%.

China and the United States have achieved some progress in their trade talks, Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng said on Tuesday, adding that as long as both sides respected each other, no problem could not be resolved.

U.S. President Donald Trump sounded upbeat on a China deal on Monday, while White House adviser Larry Kudlow said tariffs on Chinese goods scheduled for December could be withdrawn if talks go well.

Trade-sensitive technology stocks () rose 1.1%, helping lift the S&P 500 () 0.69% and near to a record closing high. The Dow () gained 0.21%, while the Nasdaq () rose 0.91%.

The better mood saw safe-haven bonds extend their recent pullback, with 10-year Treasury yields () at a five-week peak of 1.80%.

In foreign exchange markets, the dollar found support against the yen at 108.64 while staying steady on a basket of currencies to 97.297 ().

The euro paused after its recent run higher and was last trading quietly at $1.1151 ().

Sterling held firm at $1.2980 after Prime Minister Boris Johnson failed to get a vote on his Brexit deal and will try again on Tuesday to get the first stage of a withdrawal bill through Parliament.

“If the House of Commons vote in favour of the deal, could rally towards $1.3500 over the medium term.  The UK would then enter a transition period that lasts until 31 December 2020,” said Kim Mundy, a currency strategist at CBA.

“If the Commons rejects the deal, GBP/USD will likely stabilise around $1.2800, because the risk of a hard Brexit will remain low,” he added. “Early UK general elections would be the next most logical way forward.”

The Canadian dollar kept its recent gains at C$1.3076 per U.S. dollar as CBC TV predicted the ruling Liberal government of Justin Trudeau had won re-election but with a minority government.

In commodity markets, was idling at $1,484.25 per ounce .

Oil prices were little moved as the market fretted about the health of the global economy and the future for energy demand.

Brent crude () futures were down 2 cents at $58.94, while U.S. crude () added 4 cents to $53.35 a barrel.

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