Asia-Pacific stocks set for lower start; China's April trade data ahead
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SINGAPORE — Markets in Asia-Pacific were poised to be in positive territory at the open, while investors are set to weigh a possible thawing of U.S.-China trade relations as the cutting of tariffs was floated by U.S. President Joe Biden.

In Japan, the Nikkei futures contract in Chicago was at 27,045 while Osaka futures were at 27,030. The Nikkei 225’s last close was at 27,001.52.

Futures pointed to a higher open for Australian stocks. The SPI futures contract was at 7,172, against the S&P/ASX 200’s last close at 7,148.90.

In economic data for the day ahead, Japan is set to report data on its manufacturing activity for May.

Markets seemed to take the news as indicative of a potential thawing of US-China trade tensions, though it isn’t the first time tariff reductions have been floated.

Taylor Nugent

economist, National Australia Bank

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As consumer prices heated up, the White House had said last month that it was looking at how those tariffs have contributed to inflation.

Those tariffs took effect in 2018 when the Trump administration imposed tariffs on billions of dollars worth of Chinese goods and Beijing retaliated with similar punitive measures, drawing both sides into a protracted trade war.

“Markets seemed to take the news as indicative of a potential thawing of US-China trade tensions, though it isn’t the first time tariff reductions have been floated,” wrote Taylor Nugent, an economist at the National Australia Bank.While a cut to tariffs would help soften US inflation at the margin, reports suggest administration officials are concerned about appearing soft on China ahead of November congressional elections.”

Currencies

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 102.076 — continuing its slide from levels above 102.9 earlier in the week.

The Japanese yen traded at 127.76 per dollar, as it strengthened marginally from levels around 127.8 previously. The Australian dollar was at $0.7087, lifting from around $0.704 earlier.

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