May 1, 2018 / 12:44 AM / 21 days ago

U.S. stock futures pare losses after U.S. extends tariff exemptions

TOKYO (Reuters) - U.S. stock futures pared small losses while Asian shares were little changed on Tuesday after the U.S. extended the deadline on steel and aluminium tariffs by one month to major allies.

A man looks at a mobile phone in front of an electronic board showing Japan's Nikkei average outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan, March 23, 2018. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

S&P mini futures ESc1 traded flat, erasing an earlier loss of 0.2 percent. Japan's Nikkei .N225 ticked down 0.2 percent while Australian shares were flat.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS were down 0.2 percent though most markets in the region are closed for a Labour Day holiday.

U.S. shares lost steam late on Monday as worries about rising costs for companies kept investors on edge, despite solid corporate earnings overall.

The market got a small relief after the United States decided to postpone its deadline on steel and aluminium tariffs for the European Union, Canada and Mexico to June.

The United States also reached agreements in principle on tariffs with some other countries, including Australia and Brazil, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters.

The news, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, eased worries the temporary exemptions for several U.S. allies might expire.

“Markets are kind of expecting the Trump way of negotiation to continue. So I do not think markets are overly concerned about them at this point,” said Masahiro Ichikawa, senior strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui Asset Management.

Without an extension from U.S. President Donald Trump, the exemptions would have expired at 12:01 a.m. in U.S. Eastern time (0401 GMT) on Tuesday.

In the currency market, the euro traded at $1.2078 EUR=, not far from 3 1/2-month low of $1.2055 touched on Friday, after weaker-than-expected German retail sales figures.

Although the data is known to be volatile and is often subject to revision, it added to recent signs that Germany’s economy could be losing some momentum after surprisingly strong growth last year.

The dollar has been supported against many other currencies thanks to the relative strength of U.S. economy and its yield advantage.

The Federal Reserve is expected to keep interest rates on hold at its two-day policy meeting starting later on Tuesday, with a June hike already priced in.

The British pound GBP=D4 stood at $1.3769, having hit a two-month low of $1.3715 on Monday, as recent data suggested a rate hike by the Bank of England this month, once almost seen as a certainty, could be delayed.

The dollar changed hands at 109.25 yen JPY=, near Friday's 2 1/2-month high of 109.54.

Oil prices held firm near 3 1/2-year highs after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stepped up pressure on the United States to pull out of a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, presenting what he said was evidence of a secret Iranian nuclear weapons programme.

Intelligence experts and diplomats said he did not seem to have presented a “smoking gun” showing that Iran had violated the agreement and Iran dismissed Netanyahu’s accusations, calling them propaganda.

But U.S. President Donald Trump, who has threatened to pull the United States out of the international deal unless it is renegotiated by May 12, repeated his criticism of the deal after Netanyahu’s presentation, suggesting he backed the Israeli leader’s remarks.

The White House said on Monday that information released by Israel on Iran’s nuclear programme provides “new and compelling details”.

U.S. crude futures CLc1 traded flat at $68.56 per barrel, not far from last month’s peak of $69.56, its highest level since late 2014.

Brent crude futures LCOc1 $74.64 per barrel, near its 3 1/2-year high of $75.47 set last week.

    Reporting by Hideyuki Sano; Editing by Eric Meijer

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