Asia Inches Higher amid Trade Jitters

Stocks in Asia Pacific edged up on Friday as investors digested a series of developments overnight on the U.S.-China trade front that dampened hopes of a deal being reached between the two economic powerhouses.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 gained 34.64 points, or 0.2 %, to 22,079.09

Japan’s core consumer inflation slowed to a new two-year low in August, rising 0.5% in August from a year earlier, and slowing from a 0.6% gain in July. It was the slowest pace of increase since July 2017, when the index rose 0.5%.

The Japanese yen traded at 107.80 against the U.S. dollar after strengthening from levels above 108.3 in the previous session.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index dropped 33.28 points, or 0.1%, to end a turbulent week at 26,435.67.

The Australian dollar was at $0.6804 after slipping from levels above $0.680 yesterday.

CHINA

In China, the CSI 300 gained 11.27 points, or 0.3%, to 3,935.65

The People’s Bank of China published its new loan prime rates (LPR) on Friday. The one-year loan prime rate was cut to 4.2%, as compared to 4.25% a month ago, while the five-year loan prime rate was unchanged from the previous month at 4.85%

The LPR is the interest rate that banks charge their most creditworthy customers and a revamp was announced by the Chinese central bank in August in a bid to lower borrowing costs to boost the country’s economy.

Investors will watch for developments on the U.S.-China trade front following overnight developments. The South China Morning Post reported Thursday that known China hawk and Trump advisor Michael Pillsbury warned the U.S. is ready to escalate the trade war if a deal isn’t struck soon, citing an interview in Hong Kong.

In other markets

In Korea, the Kospi index tallied 11.17 points, or 0.5%, to 2,091.52

In Taiwan, the Taiex Index regained 34.99 points, or 0.3%, to 10,929.69

In Singapore, the Straits Times Index eked up 0.88 points to 3,159.68.

In New Zealand, the NZX 50 added 28.34 points, or 0.3%, to 10,829.39

In Australia, the ASX 200 strengthened 13.28 points, or 0.2%, to 6,730.75