By Wayne Cole
SYDNEY (Reuters) - Asian stock markets edged ahead on Wednesday as U.S. President Donald trump sounded upbeat about a trade deal with China, while sterling struggled with talk of an imminent party coup against British Prime Minister Theresa May.
In an interview with Reuters, Trump said talks were taking place with Beijing by phone and he would not raise tariffs on Chinese imports until he was sure about a deal.
Trump also said he would intervene in the Justice Department's case against a top executive at China's Huawei Technologies
A Canadian court on Tuesday granted bail to the executive in a move that could help placate Chinese officials angered by her arrest.
Markets were careful to not get too optimistic and MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan <.MIAPJ0000PUS> firmed a modest 0.27 percent.
Japan's Nikkei <.N225> rose 1.5 percent, while E-Mini futures for the S&P 500
Sterling slid on reports Conservative lawmakers could vote on a no confidence motion in May's leadership as soon as Wednesday night.
The political ructions come a day after her decision to delay a vote in parliament on her Brexit deal for fear of a rout angered many in her Conservative Party.
The news sent the pound reeling to a 2-month trough of $1.2484
The euro climbed to 90.62 pence
"The market is concerned that May could be replaced by a Brexit-supporter, increasing the chance of a no-deal scenario," said Rodrigo Catril, a senior FX strategist at NAB.
"Bottom line: there is great uncertainty about whether Theresa May can survive as PM and what the prospects are for a general election, new referendum or a hard Brexit."
Sentiment had got a brief lift on Tuesday from reports China was considering cutting import tariffs on American-made cars to 15 percent from the current 40 percent.
Yet there were also reports the U.S. would release evidence this week detailing Chinese hacking and economic espionage.
"Even if this (auto) step is taken it just removes what was a retaliatory measure to begin with," noted ANZ economist David Plank. "Whatever the case, market price action is somewhat of a chop-fest, right now, as it swings around on each new headline."
Markets had also been jolted when Trump threatened to shut down the government over funding for a wall he has promised to build on the southern border with Mexico.
Such cross currents left Wall Street mixed, with the Dow <.DJI> down 0.22 percent and the S&P 500 <.SPX> 0.04 percent, while the Nasdaq <.IXIC> added 0.16 percent. [.N]
Investors were looking ahead to the U.S consumer price report later on Wednesday where an expected slowdown in headline inflation would only reinforce speculation of fewer rate hikes from the Federal Reserve.
Wagers on a more restrained Fed helped gold steady near a five-month peak of $1,244.12
Oil bounced a little after industry data showed a surprisingly large draw on stockpiles. [O/R]
(Editing by Shri Navaratnam)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
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Updated Date: Dec 12, 2018 07:05:33 IST