Asian stocks, currencies gain as Biden-Xi phone call lifts mood
- Equities in the broader region also advanced, recouping some losses incurred this week, with Taiwan and Singapore adding 0.6% and 0.7%, respectively
Emerging Asian currencies strengthened on Friday, led by the Taiwan dollar and Indonesian rupiah, as a phone call between US President Joe Biden and China's premier Xi Jinping was seen as a potential precursor to easing strained relations.
Equities in the broader region also advanced, recouping some losses incurred this week, with Taiwan and Singapore adding 0.6% and 0.7%, respectively.
Biden spoke by phone with Xi Jinping for about 90 minutes, a senior US official said, with both leaders discussing the need to avoid letting competition between the world's two largest economies veer into conflict.
Asian FX subdued amid weaker dollar, Taiwan trade data awaited
Relations between Washington and Beijing have been at their lowest point in decades in the wake of the previous Donald Trump administration, and it was only the second call between the leaders since Biden took office in January.
"Earlier engagements between lower level officials haven't really gone well and markets weren't expecting Biden and Xi to actually speak until the G-20 summit later in the year," said Khoon Goh, head of Asia research at ANZ Banking Group (Singapore).
"Markets are taking this as a hopeful sign that maybe we could see toning down of recent tensions."
The rupiah, Taiwanese dollar and Singaporean dollar added between 0.2% and 0.3%, while other regional currencies also saw modest gains.
Meanwhile stocks in Malaysia dipped a day after the country's central bank held its benchmark interest rate at a record low, expecting progress in the coronavirus vaccination rate and the gradual easing of anti-COVID curbs to underpin growth.
But Top Glove, the world's largest medical glove maker, bucked the losses to lead gains on the benchmark after it said it had been allowed to resume sales to the United States, with customs authorities lifting a year-long ban imposed for alleged forced labour.
Stocks in China, which have added nearly 3.5% this week, were on course for their best weekly gain since mid-February, despite fresh crackdowns on the country's gaming sector.
Stocks in South Korea, Thailand and Indonesia were all set to post weekly losses, despite a rally towards the end of the week.
** Indonesian 10-year benchmark yields are down 1.5 basis points at 6.176%
** Top gainer on the Singapore STI was Mapletree Industrial Trust, up 2.47%
** Philippine stocks up as much as 0.5%, hitting highest since July 8
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