Asian markets and peso rally as Trump drop Mexico tariffs threat

President Trump and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto at a meeting during the G-20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany, in 2017. (AFP pic)

HONG KONG: Asian markets rose Monday and the Mexican peso rallied more than 2% after Donald Trump dropped threatened tariffs against Mexico, while weak US jobs data fanned expectations the Federal Reserve will cut interest rates next month.

Speculation about a cut in borrowing costs saw the dollar retreat against most high-yielding currencies though the pound remains subdued owing to Brexit uncertainty.

Traders breathed a sigh of relief the North American neighbours reached a last-minute immigration deal Friday that averted the imposition of 5% levies on Mexican imports and opening up of another front in Trump’s global trade battle.

However, analysts pointed out that while the agreement was good news, the stand-off between China and the United States remains unresolved, with eyes on a possible meeting between Trump and Xi Jinping at the G20 summit in Japan this month.

“The focus will now shift back to the G20 and China,” strategists at TD Securities including Richard Kelly wrote in a note. “Despite the positive result with Mexico, the US-China trade dispute is a different creature, and tensions remain high.”

At the weekend finance ministers of the G20 issued a post-meeting communique saying “growth remains low and risks remain tilted to the downside”.

It added that “trade and geopolitical tensions have intensified” but they “stood ready to take further action” if it is needed.

Fed cut on the table
Still, regional markets were well up Monday with Hong Kong jumping 2% and Shanghai 0.6% higher, while Tokyo ended the morning more than 2% higher.

Singapore climbed 0.9%, Seoul added 0.7% and Taipei rallied 1.2% with Jakarta 1.4% higher. Wellington and Manila were slightly down.

The dollar was on the back foot after the Labour Department on Friday said the economy created less than half the forecast amount of jobs last month, while wage growth stagnated, indicating the world’s top economy was slowing down.

“The miss by the US jobs report could force the hand of the Fed into making an interest rate cut,” said OANDA senior market analyst Alfonso Esparza.

“A summer cut could be on the table, unless US inflation and retail sales can turn the tide set in motion by the weak May jobs report.”

Oil prices extended Friday’s sharp gains, which came after Saudi Arabia and Russia said they would continue with their output caps, while the weaker dollar also provided support to the commodity.

However, analysts warned that the and concerns about weakening demand would keep prices under pressure.