Talking Points:

  • Asian stocks slipped as investors worried about free trade’s future
  • The G20 failed to agree on suitable communique wording in its defense
  • The markets lacked the Nikkei with Japan out for holiday

Asian stocks mostly stumbled on Monday as investors digested the headlines emanating from the weekend’s meeting of the Group of 20 largest industrial economies.

Finance ministers from those countries warned against competitive currency devaluations and “disorderly” foreign exchange markets, but failed to agree on communique wording on keeping global trade free and open.

It wasn’t all bad news though. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reportedly said on Sunday that the European Union and Japan should soon reach a trade deal. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met with Chinese President Xi Jinping and reportedly said that President Donald Trump anticipated a meeting shortly.

Asian stock markets were short of the Nikkei with Japan out for holiday. Australia’s ASX 200 ended down 0.4%. Retailers took a hard knock on worries that Amazon will launch its service in the country in 2017. No one wants that sort of competition. In Seoul, the Kospi slipped 0.5%, hit by news of sharply rising factory-gate prices.

In Singapore meanwhile, energy names were heavy. Oil-services firm Ezra Holdings filed for US Chapter 11 protection at the weekend, with loans of nearly $0.5 billion to various banks based in the city-state.

Chinese mainland shares both slipped a little but in Hong Kong the Hang Seng continued its winning streak, rising 0.6%. Official data released at the weekend showed that China’s property prices gained in February, having decelerated the month before.

The US Dollar weakened further, with the Dollar Index near one-month lows. Crude oil prices were steadier after a rough week last week as investors worried about still-high global supply. Gold prices hit two-week highs on that weaker greenback and what is now seen as the US Federal Reserve’s conservative guidance on interest-rate increases.

The rest of global Monday is hardly packed with scheduled economic news. However the cupboard is not entirely bare. Investors will get sight of the Chicago Fed’s national activity index and Bundesbank chief Jens Weidmann will speak in Loerrach, Germany.

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--- Written by David Cottle, DailyFX Research

Contact and follow David on Twitter:@DavidCottleFX