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Global Markets: Stocks cautious on trade, Syria anxiety; dollar near six-week highs

Reuters  |  TOKYO/SYDNEY 

By and Swati Pandey

TOKYO/(Reuters) - Asian stocks were cautiously higher on Friday ahead of the U.S. earnings season and as investors pondered the implications of geopolitical tensions in the and the prospect of a global trade war.

U.S. Donald Trump's tendency to change his mind over key policy and political issues has fuelled wild market gyrations in recent weeks.

Spreadbetters pointed to a largely muted start for Europe, with FTSE futures a shade higher and DAX futures up 0.2 percent. E-Mini futures for the S&P500 were unchanged as were

Investors were also reviewing mixed data from which showed March exports unexpectedly fell 2.7 percent from a year earlier while imports jumped more than forecast.

While the figures pointed to robust demand from the world's top consumer of crude, copper and iron ore, they left the country with a rare trade deficit of $4.98 billion for the month, the first since last February.

MSCI's broadest index of shares outside was up a slim 0.1 percent, having risen as much as 0.5 percent in morning trading.

It is still up about 2 percent on the week.

Chinese shares took a knock, with both the blue-chip CSI300 index and Shanghai's SSE Composite falling 0.8 percent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index inched lower too while Japan's Nikkei gained 0.55 percent.

The earnings season begins in earnest on Friday with reports from JPMorgan Chase & Co, and Wells Fargo & Co.

Analysts expect quarterly profit for companies to rise 18.4 percent from a year ago, in what would be the biggest gain in seven years, according to I/B/E/S.

Still, investors also had reason to fret.

"The worry-list for investors remains long with another military strike on after yet another looming large and the Mueller inquiry getting even closer to Trump," said Shane Oliver, Sydney-based chief at

Markets heaved a sigh of relief over suggestions from Trump that a military strike on may not be imminent. However, the threat of a strike remained after Washington's earlier warnings against the for what is said was a on its civilians.

TRADE WAR?

Trade tensions also wasn't far off the surface, with analysts at Citi noting prolonged uncertainty will likely hurt open Asian economies such as Taiwan, and

In the most recent change of tack, Trump Thursday asked his advisers to look at re-joining the Trans Pacific Partnership, a multinational trade pact the from early last year.

But he later tweeted that the would only join the TPP if the deal were substantially better than the one offered to former

"Markets have been pushed around by Trump," said Hiroshi Watanabe, at

"His modus operandi seems to do anything that seems to be good for his re-election. If protectionism doesn't work, he may switch to international trade," he added.

"Markets are still not yet convinced yet if the U.S. is really re-joining the TPP. But if it does, it's very positive for the global and stock markets will like it."

In the currency market, the dollar gained to at 107.57 yen, a level not seen since Feb.22.

The euro was flat at $1.2326, though on the week it has kept gains of 0.4 percent.

edged lower but are still set for their biggest weekly gains since last July.

futures were off 17 cents at $71.85 a barrel, not far from Wednesday's high of $73.09. U.S. WTI crude futures slipped 17 cents to $66.9.

(Additional reporting by Swati Pandey; Editing by and Jacqueline Wong)

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, April 13 2018. 12:38 IST
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