Geopolitical tensions, economics, currencies, oil

SINGAPORE — Shares in the Asia-Pacific were mostly higher Wednesday as geopolitical tensions between the U.S. and China intensified over U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.

Mainland China markets led gains. The Shanghai Composite rose 0.93%, and the Shenzhen Component added 1.29%. On Tuesday, before Pelosi’s arrival, both indexes fell as much as 3% in the trading session.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index advanced 1.14%.

Taiwan’s Taiex was 0.27% lower.

Elsewhere in Asia, the Kospi in South Korea gained 0.4% and the Kosdaq was 0.67% higher.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 rose 0.49% and the Topix index was up 0.15%.

The S&P/ASX 200 in Australia, however, fell 0.55%.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside of Japan increased 0.12%.

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Pelosi arrived in Taiwan on Tuesday night local time amid warnings from Beijing.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying tweeted that Pelosi’s visit was a “major political provocation,” while a spokesperson for the People’s Liberation Army’s Eastern Theatre Command said it would conduct “a series of joint military operations around the Taiwan Island from the evening of August 2.”

Those operations include long-range combat fire live shooting in the Taiwan Strait and conventional missile firepower test launching, the statement said, calling them “stern deterrence” and a grave warning.

State news agency Xinhua reported that the military will conduct exercises including live-fire drills from Aug. 4 to 7 in areas around Taiwan.

“However, these PLA exercises are more performative signals than preparations for war; crisis is not yet base case and the chance of kinetic conflict remains very low,” Eurasia Group analysts wrote in a note dated Aug. 2.

The note pointed out that the PLA did not interfere with Pelosi’s flight to Taiwan.

China’s ministry of commerce also said it would stop exports of natural sand to Taiwan, according to a Chinese-language statement on its website.

In economic news, China’s Caixin Services Purchasing Managers’ Index for July came in at 55.5, up from 54.5 in June. It’s also the highest since April 2021, according to Eikon data.

The 50 mark for PMI readings separate expansion or contraction from the previous month.

Currencies and oil

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 106.401, after a recent climb following signals from Fed officials that the central bank is not done with raising interest rates.

Kristina Clifton, an economist at Commonwealth Bank of Australia wrote in a Wednesday note that the lift in U.S. Treasury yields affected the dollar-yen.

The Japanese yen traded at 133.46 per dollar, weaker compared to earlier in the week.

“USD/JPY made a sharp U‑turn overnight, rising above 133.0 after trading as low 130.40 yesterday,” Clifton wrote.

The Australian dollar was at $0.6901, continuing to fall since the Reserve Bank of Australia hiked rates on Tuesday. Clifton said falling oil prices have also weighed on the Aussie dollar.

Oil futures pared earlier losses but were still slightly lower. U.S. crude futures slipped fractionally to $94.39 per barrel, while Brent crude futures declined 0.14% to $100.40 per barrel.

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