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Nikkei Markets

Asian equities advance on hopes US may delay new tariffs on China

Taiwan Semiconductor, Tencent boost A300 index

HONG KONG (Nikkei Markets) -- Asian shares outside of Japan ended higher on Wednesday amid speculation that new U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods, set to take effect at the end of this week, could be delayed.

The Nikkei Asia300 index advanced 0.6% to 1,317.40.

Two media reports yesterday indicated that Washington could delay the new tariffs on Chinese shipments.

The Wall Street Journal reported that trade negotiators of the two countries are laying the groundwork for a delay of the new round of tariffs scheduled to take effect on Dec. 15.

Bloomberg reported that Chinese officials expect U.S. President Donald Trump to delay the tariff increase to give more time to negotiate an interim trade deal that both the sides continue to insist is nearing.

Despite those reports, uncertainty regarding the tariffs remained. White House trade advisor Peter Navarro said yesterday that Trump will decide on the levies and that he had not been given any indication on what the president will do.

Michael McCarthy, the chief market strategist at CMC Markets and Stockbroking, said the report of Beijing expecting that the tariff increases will be deferred "is a mixed blessing given the implication that no deal will be announced by then."

Meanwhile, later Wednesday, investors will get updates on the U.S. interest rate outlook and on inflation. The Federal Reserve, widely expected to leave the rates unchanged, will release policymakers' projections on interest rates. Before that, data is expected to show that retail prices rose by 2% year-on-year last month.

Among movers on the A300 on Wednesday, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing added 1.8% after posting November sales that were up 9.7% from a year earlier.

Another index heavyweight Tencent Holdings added 1% after saying one of its online game titles received approval for monetization from the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television.

PetroChina rose 0.3%, China Petroleum & Chemical (Sinopec) climbed 0.2%, Kunlun Energy ended little changed, and Sinopec Kantons Holdings added 3.9%. The companies announced late Tuesday that they started talks with China Oil & Gas Piping Network for a restructuring or possible injection of pipeline assets.

Malaysia Airports Holdings added 0.7% after November passenger traffic increased 6% on-year.

--Nimesh Vora

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