Asian stocks trade higher amid hopes of progress in US-China trade talks

Asian stocks saw gains during Wednesday afternoon trade as investors remained cautiously optimistic Beijing and Washington could move forward on a trade deal.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 advanced 1.3 percent in afternoon trade while the Topix gained more than 1.2 percent, with most sectors trading up.

South Korea’s Kospi also gained 1.9 percent as shares of industry heavyweight Samsung Electronics advanced 3.54 percent and steelmaker Posco rose more than 3.6 percent. Shares of chipmaker SK Hynix also soared more than 6 percent.

Australia’s benchmark ASX 200 rose nearly 1 percent, with all sectors advancing. The energy subindex added around 2 percent. Oil stocks gained, as shares of Santos rose 2.09 percent, Woodside Petroleum higher by 2.25 percent and Beach Energy surged 5.34 percent.

The moves in the oil sector Down Under came on the back of Tuesday’s strong gain in oil prices, with the rally extending into Wednesday. In the afternoon of Asian trade, international benchmark Brent crude futures gained 1.36 percent to $59.52 per barrel while U.S. crude futures advanced 1.63 percent to $50.59 per barrel.

Trade talks extended

The mainland Chinese markets saw gains in the morning session. The Shanghai composite rose almost 1.6 percent and the Shenzhen composite advanced 1.558 percent. The Shenzhen component also climbed up by 1.824 percent.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index jumped 2.46 percent, as shares of Chinese tech juggernaut Tencent soared 2.47 percent.

Electronics company Xiaomi, on the other hand, saw its stock drop 2.88 percent after J.P. Morgan slashed its price target on the stock.

Expressing confidence in the stock’s long-term value, Xiaomi announced on Wednesday that its controlling shareholders “shall not dispose of any shares of the Company directly or indirectly beneficially owned by them” for the next 365 days.

Investors will continue watching for developments on the U.S.-China trade front after negotiations between the world’s two largest economies extended into an unscheduled third day, according to Reuters.

One analyst said that markets are holding on to optimism over the extended trade talks.

“It is not over until the fat lady has sung,” Vishnu Varathan, head of economics and strategy at Mizuho Bank, wrote in a morning note.

“First, a joint statement … after this round of talks are concluded will perhaps be a more meaningful gauge on what both sides have tentatively agreed on,” Varathan said. “Second, even if a deal is cobbled together, the more strident trade hawks in the White House and Trump may not sign off. And we have watched that movie before.”

“Finally, there is a nagging sense that a preliminary agreement here is likely to fall short of the “comprehensive deal” Trump banged on about at the G20,” he added.

The new round of talks began on Monday as the two countries seek to strike an agreement amidst the ongoing trade war, which saw the U.S. and China slap punitive tariffs on each other’s goods.

U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted that the trade talks are “going very well.”

In overnight market action on Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 256.10 points to close at 23,787.45 — its first three-day winning streak since late November. The S&P 500 advanced 0.97 percent to 2,574.41 while the Nasdaq Composite gained 1.1 percent to close at almost 6,897.

For the year so far, the Dow and S&P 500 have risen 1.97 percent and 2.7 percent, respectively. The Nasdaq is up nearly 4 percent in that time period.

Currencies

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 95.835 after seeing highs above 96 in the previous session.

The Japanese yen, widely seen as a safe-haven currency, traded at 108.89 against the greenback after seeing lows close to 109 yesterday. The Australian dollar was at $0.7156 after seeing lows above $0.711 in the previous session.

Source: Reuters

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