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Asia Pacific markets up in early trade despite U.S.-China tensions

Vehicles are reflected in a window as electronic boards display stock information at the Australian Securities Exchange, operated by ASX.

Lisa Maree | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Asia Pacific markets rose in early trade on Monday, despite the heightened U.S.-China tensions in recent weeks. 

South Korea’s Kospi index gained 0.43% as some of the big tech names advanced. Samsung Electronics shares rose 1.39%, LG Electronics gained 3.37% and SK Hynix was up 0.12%.

Automakers were also up: Hyundai Motor added 8.5% and Kia Motors was 4.14% higher. 

In Australia, the benchmark ASX 200 was up 0.66%, with most sectors trading higher. The heavily weighted financials subindex was up 1.39% as major banks advanced, while resources producers traded mixed. 

The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7166, rising from an earlier low around $0.7145. 

Australia is also tackling a fresh wave of coronavirus outbreak in Victoria state, which accounts for the majority of reported cases and deaths in the country. In an effort to slow the spread of infection, the state has imposed strict lockdown measures limiting people’s movements and closed large parts of the economy. 

Markets in Japan are closed Monday for a public holiday. 

U.S.-China tensions

“The bigger question for markets is whether these actions jeopardise the US-China trade talks on August 15 and markets will be looking closely for any Chinese retaliation,” Tapas Strickland, director for economics and markets at the National Australia Bank, wrote in a Monday morning note. 

Officials from both sides are set to review the implementation of their phase one trade deal and are likely to air mutual grievances during an Aug. 15 video conference, Reuters reported last week, citing two sources familiar with the plans. 

“The running assumption in markets has been President Trump needed the phase one deal to succeed (as much as China) this side of the November elections to secure the mid-West. At the same time President Trump is running a hard China line into the elections,” Strickland added. 

U.S. futures slipped Sunday night after the president signed several executive orders aimed at extending coronavirus relief — infection cases in the U.S. topped 5 million.

The U.S. dollar traded at 93.350 against a basket of its peers, climbing from levels around 92.800 in the previous week. 

Oil prices rose Monday morning during Asian hours. U.S. crude added 1.16% to $41.70 per barrel while global benchmark Brent was up 0.95% to $44.82. 

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