Stocks in Asia were set to trade higher on Friday amid positive developments on the U.S.-China trade front.
Futures pointed to a higher open for Japanese stocks. The Nikkei futures contract in Chicago was at 21,755 while its counterpart in Osaka was at 21,660. That compared against the Nikkei 225’s last close at 21,551.98.
Meanwhile, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 traded about 1% higher in early trade.
Investors will watch for market reaction to other overnight developments on U.S.-China trade. American President Donald Trump said in a tweet Thursday that he is set to meet with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He on Friday, raising expectations that progress could be made on the trade front by the two economic powerhouses.
The U.S. and China are currently in the midst of high-level trade negotiations in Washington. The world’s two largest economies seek to reach a deal to end their protracted trade war that has seen tariffs slapped on billions of dollars worth of each other’s goods and driven worries over the global economic outlook.
Trump’s tweet was the latest in a number of conflicting reports that had appeared prior to the start of high-level trade negotiations on Thursday, sending markets into a whirlwind.
A South China Morning Post report on Thursday morning in Asia said the two sides made no progress in deputy-level negotiations this week, and added that Liu would leave Washington earlier than expected. A White House spokesperson later told CNBC’s Kayla Tausche: “We are not aware of a change in the Vice Premier’s travels plans at this time.”
Bloomberg News also reported Thursday morning Asia time that the U.S was considering an agreement to suspend next week’s tariff increase in exchange for a currency pact. The U.S. previously announced it will increase duties on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods from 25% to 30% on October 15. A 15% tariff on an additional $160 billion worth of Chinese imports is also expected to kick in on December 15.
Meanwhile, the New York Times reported Wednesday evening stateside that U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration is set to grant licenses that would allow American firms to sell nonsensitive supplies to Huawei. Earlier this year, the White House placed a ban on sales to the Chinese telecommunications giant, citing national security concerns.
Overnight stateside, shares on Wall Street got a boost from the optimism on U.S.-China trade. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 150.66 points to close at 26,496.67 while the S&P 500 gained 0.7% to end its trading day at 2,938.13. The Nasdaq Composite closed 0.6% higher at 7,950.78.
The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 98.701 after falling from levels above 99.0 yesterday.
The Japanese yen traded at 107.91 against the dollar after weakening from levels below 107.6 in the previous session. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.6758 after jumping from levels below $0.672 yesterday.
What’s on tap:
- India: Industrial production data for August at 8:00 p.m. HK/SIN
— CNBC’s Fred Imbert contributed to this report.
Alibaba Group thwarts 300 million hack attempts per day
Alibaba’s company logo at its office in Hong Kong on February 22, 2012.
Aaron Tam/Stringer | Getty Images
Ma said he was “proud” that despite the tirade of subterfuge, Alipay — the group’s payments arm which reports close to 1 billion users and processes $50 billion worth of transactions per day — has yet to lose “one cent” to hackers.
“For Alibaba Group, we have over 300 million hacking attempts per day. Every day. But we deal (with) it. We don’t have even one problem,” Ma said at the Forbes Global CEO Conference in Singapore on Tuesday.
By way of contrast, embattled Chinese technology giant Huawei is subject to around 1 million daily cyberattacks, according to its security chief. Until now, other technology companies have been less forthcoming in revealing their cyber attack vulnerabilities.
Alibaba faced a sweeping cyber attack attempt in February, which threatened to compromise the accounts of 20 million users on its Taobao e-commerce site. The company said it detected the attack “in the first instance.”
Ma cited the company’s advanced tech capabilities, which he dubbed “AI: Alibaba Intelligence,” for its continued success rate, noting that machines are superior to humans in using logic to thwart malicious online behavior.
“We teach the machine all the ways people (are) cheating,” said Ma. “The machine remembers over millions of ways of cheating, so when we start the cheating, (the) machine already knows you are cheating. In this way we are protecting all the technology.”
Jack Ma (right), co-founder and former executive chair of Alibaba Group, speaks next to Steve Forbes (left), chairman and editor-in-chief of Forbes media, during the Forbes Global CEO Conference in Singapore on October 15, 2019.
Roslan Rahman | AFP | Getty Images
To achieve that degree of accuracy, however, Ma noted the company must collect vast swathes of customer data. He argued that doing so allowed Alibaba to develop safeguards to detect bad human actors.
“Give my data to a machine,” said Ma. “I trust a machine more than (I) trust people.”
“I give my data to people, I worry about that. People say ‘ah, this is Jack Ma, I want to know about him.’ Machine(s) don’t care if you’re Jack Ma or Jack Lee. Machine cares whether you do good things or bad things.”
Ma retired from Alibaba last month, 20 years after the company’s founding. At the conference in Singapore, he was honored with the Malcolm S Forbes Lifetime Achievement Award for his “outstanding” contributions to entrepreneurship.
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam annual policy address interrupted
Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam leaves her annual policy address due to disruptions by pro-democracy lawmakers in the Legislative Council on October 16, 2019.
Anthony Wallace | AFP | Getty Images
Pro-democracy lawmakers shouted at Hong Kong embattled leader Carrie Lam on the floor of the legislature as she was set to deliver her annual speech on Wednesday.
Lam’s remarks were initially suspended amid disruption. As she was set to begin her address a second time, pro-democracy lawmakers interrupted her and some even threw objects at her.
The proceedings were adjourned as the six democratic lawmakers were escorted out of the room. Lam also left the legislature’s chambers.
Lam was set to formally withdraw the extradition bill that sparked nearly five months of sometimes violent protests in the city.
She was expected to also focus on land and housing initiatives in a bid to restore confidence in the city’s future after months of anti-government protests that have crippled the city and dampened investor sentiment in the Asian financial hub.
Pro-democracy lawmakers wearing masks with the image of Chinese President Xi Jinping disrupt proceedings during the annual policy address of Carrie Lam on October 16, 2019.
Anthony Wallace | AFP | Getty Images
The semi-autonomous city battles to overcome its greatest political turmoil since 1997, when the former British colony was handed over to China. Hong Kong now operates under the “one country, two systems” principle, in which Beijing grants Hong Kong citizens financial and legal independence from the mainland.
This is breaking news. Please check back updates.
US charges Turkish bank tied to Giuliani client with evading sanctions
People walk past a branch of Turkish bank HalkBank in Istanbul, Turkey.
Chris McGrath | Getty Images
Federal prosecutors in New York announced charges on Tuesday against a Turkish bank with ties to a gold trader connected to Rudy Giuliani, accusing the financial institution of a multi-billion dollar scheme to evade U.S. sanctions on Iran.
The six-count indictment for fraud, money laundering and sanctions offenses comes a year after a former executive at the bank, Mehmet Hakan Atilla, was sentenced to prison for working with international gold trader Reza Zarrab, whom Giuliani has represented, to hide transactions involving Iran.
“As alleged in today’s indictment, Halkbank’s systemic participation in the illicit movement of billions of dollars’ worth of Iranian oil revenue was designed and executed by senior bank officials,” U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said in a statement.
“The bank’s audacious conduct was supported and protected by high-ranking Turkish government officials, some of whom received millions of dollars in bribes to promote and protect the scheme,” he said.
Giuliani’s involvement with Zarrab has recently been in the news. The former New York mayor, along with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, had pressed President Donald Trump to drop a case against Zarrab after he was detained during a trip to the U.S. in 2016, Bloomberg reported last week.
Zarrab ultimately pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in the case against Atilla.
Bloomberg also reported that, in 2017, Trump asked then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to get the Justice Department to drop Zarrab’s case. Tillerson refused, according to the outlet.
Giuliani’s attempts to influence American foreign policy have come under scrutiny in recent weeks also in connection to Ukraine.
In the whistleblower complaint that spurred Democrats’ impeachment efforts, Giuliani was accused of being a “central figure” in Trump’s July 25 request that Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky “look into” unsubstantiated corruption allegations against former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
A representative for Giuliani didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
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