Asia to trade cautiously as US-China trade war dominates market focus

  • Asia Pacific markets were set to trade cautiously on Monday, with Nikkei futures pointing to a fractionally higher open in Japan.
  • Australian shares rose 0.1% in early trade. 
  • The ongoing trade war between the United States and China is set to take the spotlight this week.  
  • Citi analysts said even if some of the tariffs are rolled back, frictions between the U.S. and China will still remain. 

Asia Pacific markets were set to trade cautiously on Monday, with Nikkei futures pointing to a fractionally higher open in Japan.

In Australia, the benchmark ASX 200 rose 0.1% in early trade.

The ongoing trade war between the United States and China is set to take the spotlight this week.

Last Thursday, trade optimism rose after China's Commerce Ministry said that Beijing had agreed with Washington to lift existing trade tariffs between the two countries in phases.

Hopes of alleviating that trade fight, which has hampered the global growth outlook and created uncertainty for businesses, dampened when President Donald Trump said Friday he has not agreed to scrap tariffs on Chinese goods.

Both sides are working to sign what the White House has described as a "phase one" trade deal.

"US-China trade tensions will continue to drive currencies this week," currency strategists at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia wrote in a morning note. They said the dollar could "edge higher this week," driven by trade developments and it could potentially diminish expectations for further rate cuts from the U.S. Federal Reserve.

The dollar last traded at 98.353 against a basket of its peers on Friday.

Elsewhere, the Japanese yen changed hands at 109.21 per dollar, weakening from levels below 108.8 that was briefly reached last week. The Australian dollar traded at $0.6857, declining from around $0.6900 from the previous week.

Citi analysts said in a note that they expect at most a "rollback of the September tariffs only along with a suspension of the December tariffs contingent on achieving a Phase 1 deal." The next tariff deadline is Dec. 15.

"We expect a high degree of uncertainty to remain even if a tariff rollback is achieved," the analysts wrote, explaining that investment and financial frictions between the world's two largest economies are likely to continue.

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