Asian shares wavered on Friday as investors were on edge before a crucial weekend meeting between the Chinese and U.S. presidents that could determine the course of a heated trade war over the next year. Investor attention is now squarely focused on planned talks between Chinese President Xi Jinping and his U.S. counterpart over the weekend on the sidelines of a G20 summit in Argentina. Minutes of the latest Fed policy meeting showed that almost all officials agreed another interest rate increase was “likely to be warranted fairly soon,” but opened debate on when to pause further hikes and how to relay those plans to the public. The minutes follow comments from Fed Chairman Jerome Powell earlier this week that some took as indicating a dovish shift.
In currencies, dollar trod water in nervous trade on Friday ahead of a meeting of U.S. and Chinese leaders that might, or might not, lead to a truce in the Sino-U.S. trade war, which would boost emerging market currencies at the expense of safe havens. The greenback has been under pressure this week on growing expectations that the Federal Reserve would slow down its pace of monetary tightening, a view reinforced by comments on Wednesday from Chairman Jerome Powell. EURUSD was steady at $1.1390, having risen in the last two sessions as the dollar wobbled on Powell’s comments. GBPUSD traded at $1.2779, losing 0.1 percent versus the greenback. Traders remain bearish on the pound betting that British Prime Minister Theresa May will fail to win approval for her Brexit deal in a fractious parliament
In commodity markets, crude prices extended gains on news that Russia is increasingly convinced it needs to reduce oil output along with the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). OPEC and its allies are meeting in Vienna on Dec. 6-7. U.S. (WTI) gained 0.37 percent to $51.64 a barrel and Brent crude was up 0.42 percent at $59.76 per barrel.