Lukewarm morning for Asia stocks; Brent up

AFP – Asian markets made a tepid recovery Monday as investors sought to shrug off a difficult week dominated by anxiety over the fractious US-China trade war.

As the two economic superpowers ready for a prolonged battle, with no date set for tariff negotiations to resume, all eyes were on US President Donald Trump’s visit to Japan, where he is expected to hold formal talks with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday.

Ahead of the talks, Trump hit out at the "tremendous imbalance" in trade with the US ally, but said he was confident that things would "work out over a period of time".

Tokyo rose 0.3 percent, while Jakarta gained 0.7 percent. But Hong Kong lost 0.5 percent, while Shanghai edged down 0.3 percent.

The cautious recovery in Asia came after the Dow retreated for the fifth straight week, its longest losing streak since 2011.

Investors were expected to welcome a three-day weekend that saw US and UK markets closed on Monday, as Washington and Beijing sharpened their rhetoric over the trade war and the resignation of British Prime Minister Theresa May raised the likelihood of a no-deal Brexit.

The strong show of support for the Brexit Party in the European elections over the weekend will do little to ease those fears, analysts said.

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"The problems that Theresa May faced will not go away with a new leader. In fact, they may get worse, because this weekend’s election shows a large proportion of voters out there are still adamant they want a Brexit and don’t seem minded to negotiate with Brussels," said OANDA senior market analyst Jeffrey Halley.

The results of the vote "should highlight how fractured both Parliament and the British electorate remain. The new Prime Minister will face the same issues -– including a non-majority in Parliament -– as his or her predecessors", Halley added.

Oil prices made a lukewarm comeback after suffering a sudden rout last week due to a surprise increase in US crude and gasoline inventories.

Despite the OPEC output cap as well as sanctions against Iran and Venezuela putting pressure on supplies, jitters over the US-China trade war have dampened future demand, keeping prices on the lower side.

– Key figures around 0300 GMT –

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 0.3 percent at 21,181.80 (break)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: DOWN 0.5 percent at 27,208.19

Shanghai – Composite: DOWN 0.3 percent at 2,845.78

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2729 from $1.2710 at 2100 GMT

Euro/pound: DOWN at 88.07 pence from 88.16 pence

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1211 from $1.1205

Dollar/yen: UP at 109.47 yen from 109.29 yen 

Oil – Brent Crude: UP 8 cents at $68.77 per barrel

Oil – West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 14 cents at $58.49 per barrel

New York – Dow: UP 0.4 percent at 25,585.69 (close)

London – FTSE 100: UP 0.7 percent at 7,277.73 (close)

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