Asian markets climb on hopes of Mexico tariff delay

HONG KONG (AFP/APP): Asian markets rose Friday, tracking gains on Wall Street following a report that the United States could delay its plan to hit Mexico with tariffs. The threats against Mexico have intensified anxiety among investors, who were already rattled by the seemingly endless US-China trade war.

But US stocks enjoyed a bounce Thursday after Bloomberg News reported that Washington could push back its plan to impose tariffs on Mexico on June 10 to allow more time for talks on illegal immigration.

Upbeat comments from Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard, who said the talks with US officials had yielded progress, added to the positive mood.

Export-dependent Mexico has been scrambling to stem the flow of Central American migrants to the US — deploying troops along its border with Guatemala, blocking a new caravan and freezing the bank accounts of suspected human traffickers — in a bid to appease Washington.

“The slightly better tone to the Mexico immigration negotiations has seen all US major equity indices end the day in positive territory,” Rodrigo Catril, strategist at National Australia Bank, said in a commentary.

Tokyo, Sydney and Seoul climbed 0.5 percent Friday. Singapore and Kuala Lumpur edged up 0.4 percent. Markets in Hong Kong and mainland China were closed for a public holiday.

The trade tensions have sharpened fears for the global economy and lowered overall growth forecasts, with no date set for negotiations to resolve the US-China spat.

“The US-China dispute will drag on, with the next round of talks unclear, with a chance of a meeting of the two leaders in Japan as part of the G20 at the end of June,” said OANDA senior market analyst Alfonso Esparza, adding that the summit could yield “good news”.

“Then again, we have been here before, where an agreement was within reach, only to be snatched away at the last second,” he added.

As fears have mounted for the health of the global economy, central bankers have taken a dovish stance to head off a recession.

The euro rallied Thursday following an announcement by the European Central Bank that it would extend its key interest rates for the eurozone — currently at historic lows — for at least the next six months.

The signals from the ECB added to investor relief as the eurozone battles rising worries about growth and inflation.

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 0.5 percent at 20,878.90 (break), Hong Kong – Hang Seng: closed for a public holiday, Shanghai – Composite: closed for a public holiday, Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2695 from 1.2689 at 2100 GMT Thursday, Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1270 from $1.1272, Dollar/yen: UP at 108.51 yen from 108.50 yen, Oil – Brent Crude: UP 77 cents at $62.44 per barrel, Oil – West Texas Intermediate: UP 70 cents at $53.29 per barrel, New York – Dow: UP 0.7 percent at 25,720.66 (close), London – FTSE 100: UP 0.6 percent at 7,259.85 (close).