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US stock futures, Asian shares rise after Mnuchin says trade war 'on hold'

U.S. stock futures and Asian markets rose on May 21, a day after U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the U.S.-China trade war has been put "on hold."

S&P mini futures gained 0.63% in early Asian trade on May 21 while Asian bourses opened higher, with China's Shanghai Composite up 0.42%, Hong Kong's Hang Seng climbing 1.16% and Japan's Nikkei 225 up 0.37%.

U.S 10-year Treasury yields shed 5 basis points to 3.06% as of 10:20 p.m. ET on May 20 following news that China had agreed to "significantly increase" its purchase of goods and services from the U.S. to narrow their trade deficit, but without committing to a specific monetary amount.

The U.S. dollar gained against the euro, the yen and the pound, by 0.13%, 0.18% and 0.11%, respectively. Brent crude futures rose 0.69% to $79.05 per barrel.

"Although some of the more fundamental difference is largely left unaddressed, trade tensions are buried for now - good news for all," said Klaus Baader, an analyst at Société Générale.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said that while getting China to open its market to more U.S. exports was significant, it was far more critical to resolve forced technology transfers and cyber theft, reported Reuters May 20.

"Real structural change is necessary. Nothing less than the future of tens of millions of American jobs is at stake," said Lighthizer.

U.S. President Donald Trump's top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, said it was too early to pin down the $200 billion figure for China's promised purchases. "The details will be down the road. These things are not so precise," Kudlow said in the CBS program "Face the Nation".

Mnuchin and Kudlow said the next step will be to send Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to China to determine areas where China will increase its purchases. These include energy, liquefied natural gas, agriculture and manufacturing.

Mnuchin said the U.S. expects a 35%-40% increase in agricultural exports to China in 2018 alone and energy purchases to double over the next three to five years, but declined to disclose the specific industry targets.

Kudlow also said any changes to the ZTE Corp. ban will be minimal, Reuters reported. "If any of the remedies are altered they are still going to be very, very, tough, including big fines, compliance measures, new management, new boards."