Asian markets advanced Tuesday, with Beijing's planned stimulus measures pushing up Chinese shares as investors turn their attention to this week's release of corporate earnings reports.
Tensions persist over a potential global trade war, however, with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker heading to Washington on Wednesday to meet with President Donald Trump and try to avert an escalation of tit-for-tat tariffs.
The US leader is already embroiled in a messy trade spat with China and Europe, while negotiations with Canada and Mexico to revamp the North American Free Trade Agreement have stalled.
Beijing signaled it would shift to a looser fiscal policy to shield the world's second-largest economy from the worsening trade row with Washington, prompting Chinese shares, buffeted for months by the spat, to make gains.
Shanghai jumped 1.6 percent while Hong Kong advanced 1.3 percent. The gains were mirrored across Asia, with Tokyo and Seoul both rising 0.5 percent and Sydney adding 0.6 percent.
Chinese policymakers have had to juggle competing priorities: transitioning the world's second-largest economy to an expected era of slower growth, while also cleansing the financial system of dodgy credit.
That balancing act has become even trickier as China's export engine braces for the impact of US tariffs on Chinese goods, imposed by President Donald Trump to punish Beijing for “unfair” trade practices.
Premier Li Keqiang stressed the government would accelerate plans to reduce taxes by more than 1.1 trillion yuan ($160 billion) and to issue 1.35 trillion yuan in local government special bonds for infrastructure.
Beijing was widely expected to ease up on its credit clampdown — a campaign that has also weighed on Chinese stocks — in light of the new Trump-era realities.
– Earnings in focus –
Focus has also shifted to a round of earnings reports expected this week from companies ranging from British pharma giant GlaxoSmithKline to Japanese automaker Mitsubishi Motors to US aerospace titan Boeing.
Tech firms Amazon and Facebook will also report their results later in the week.
In Europe, shares in French car giant PSA — owner of Peugeot — surged 9.5 percent on strong earnings.
Paris opened 0.4 percent higher while London gained 0.2 percent and Frankfurt advanced 0.3 percent.
Oil markets slipped after getting a lift on Monday when Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani engaged in a round of furious saber-rattling.
Trump's tweet — all in capital letters, the digital equivalent of shouting — came after Rouhani warned the US leader on Sunday not to “play with the lion's tail”, saying that conflict with Iran would trigger the “mother of all wars”.
Trump responded: “NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE.” But the boost to oil markets was short-lived.
“While oil prices were the primary beneficiary of the weekend's headline battle between President Trump and Iranian President Rouhani, that boost started to fizzle as traders then veered to oversupply concerns,” said Stephen Innes, head of Asia-Pacific trading at Oanda trading group.
“The broader macro picture continues to loom large as Saudi Arabia and Russia are expanding production to offset the loss of Iran production,” Innes added.
– Key figures at 0700 GMT –
Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 0.5 percent at 22,510.48 (close)
Hong Kong – Hang Seng: UP 1.3 percent at 28,611.65
Shanghai – Composite: UP 1.6 percent at 2,905.56 (close)
London – FTSE 100: UP 0.2 percent at 7,674.17 (open)
Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1675 from $1.1694 at 2100 GMT
Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3103 from $1.3102
Dollar/yen: DOWN at 111.22 yen from 111.35 yen
Oil – Brent Crude: UP one cent at $73.07 per barrel
Oil – West Texas Intermediate: DOWN five cents at $67.84
New York – Dow: DOWN 0.1 percent at 25,044.29 (close)