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Asia: Markets rally after US gains, yuan edges up


[HONG KONG] Asian markets rose on Monday after a healthy lead from Wall Street as positive US jobs data trumped fresh trade war threats, while the yuan extended a recovery after the Chinese central bank moved to support the unit.

Hong Kong led gains as the week got off to an upbeat start, with dealers tracking their New York and European counterparts following recent painful losses.

Data on Friday showed that while the US economy saw a slowdown in jobs creation in July, the pace of hiring remained strong over the past three months.

The report also showed wage growth remained tepid, helping temper worries about an overheating economy.

The result provided some much-needed cheer to markets, which managed to brush off a warning from Beijing that it would impose new tariffs on US$60 billion worth of US goods if Washington pushes ahead with levies on US$200 billion of Chinese imports.

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Despite reports that unofficial talks have been held between the two sides, trade tensions continue to rise with a top White House advisor calling China a bad bet and saying its economy - the world's second biggest - was struggling.

Still, equity traders were in a buying mood Monday. Hong Kong piled on more than one per cent while Shanghai added 0.2 per cent and Tokyo went into the break 0.5 per cent higher.

Sydney rose 0.7 per cent, Singapore jumped more than one per cent and Taipei was 0.3 per cent stronger. Jakarta climbed 0.7 per cent despite an earthquake that rattled the island of Lombok, killing dozens of people.


Support also came from the People's Bank of China decision late Friday to unveil measures making it harder to bet against the yuan, which has suffered steep losses the past two months.

The currency, which is around lows not seen for more than a year, bounced back soon after the announcement and it extended the gains Monday.

The bank's measure was similar to a move when the currency went into freefall following a devaluation three years ago that rattled global markets.

However, analysts were lukewarm on the move with some saying it indicated Chinese leaders were growing increasingly worried about the unit's depreciation.

"The yuan kept falling when China did this last time in 2015, so I don't think the PBoC's move will significantly change the market tone," Hao Hong, chief strategist at Bocom International Holdings, told Bloomberg News.

"No matter what happened over the weekend, the weakness in Chinese stocks may continue. The trade war is nowhere near its end and China's economy is slowing down, so why would the trend reverse?"

In other forex trading, the pound was fighting to recover from Friday's sell-off that came after Bank of England boss Mark Carney warned the chances of leaving the EU without a proper deal was "uncomfortably high" and "highly undesirable".

While he said such a situation was still "unlikely" compared with other outcomes, the comments come as leaders on both sides are struggling to reach a compromise with just months to go before Britain is due to formally exit.

The remarks sent sterling tumbling, with an interest rate hike last week unable to provide any support.


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