ASIA-PAC MARKET WRAP: Asia stocks gained on North Korean denuclearization commitment and hopes of further Trump tariff exemptions

Asia stocks were higher across the board after the positive lead from US where President Trump confirmed aluminium and steel tariffs, but exempted NAFTA partners and was also said to be open to providing relief for allies. In addition, Asia-Pac risk appetite was further bolstered by geopolitical developments in which the South Korean National Security Office chief announced that North Korean Leader Kim is committed to denuclearization and will refrain from conducting further tests, with President Trump and North Korea’s Kim to meet by May. ASX 200 (+0.3%) and Nikkei 225 (+0.5%) were positive but with upside capped by a subdued commodities sector and weakness across steel names on Trump tariffs, while KOSPI (+1.0%) outperformed on the further appeasement in the Korean peninsula. Elsewhere, Hang Seng (+0.9%) was underpinned amid the broad positivity in the region, while Shanghai Comp. (+0.3%) somewhat lagged after PBoC inaction led to a net weekly drain of CNY 240bln, while participants also digested US tariffs alongside mixed Chinese lending and inflation data. Finally, 10yr JGBs were flat with markets focused on riskier assets and after an uneventful BoJ announcement.