Asian markets rise on trade hopes, weak yen

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HONG KONG, Feb 12, 2019 (BSS/AFP) – Asian shares were mostly up Tuesday as
investors watched key US-China trade talks aimed at averting punitive tariffs
which could slow the global economy, and a weak yen boosted exporters.

Markets were also lifted by a tentative deal to avert a new government
shutdown.

Initial trade talks are under way in Beijing, and top-level negotiations
are set for Thursday and Friday, as the deadline looms for a deal to prevent
a sharp rise in US duties on billions of dollars worth of Chinese goods.

“Officials on both sides of the US-China trade talks expressed satisfaction
with the progress thus far,” wrote Jeffrey Halley, senior analyst at Oanda,
in a commentary.

Failure to agree a deal between the two economic superpowers before March
would see tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports more than double.

Washington is demanding far-reaching changes from Beijing on what it says
are unfair commercial practices, including theft of intellectual property and
barriers to foreign firms in Chinese markets.

While Hong Kong edged down 0.1 percent, Shanghai gained 0.3 percent and
Tokyo — returning from Monday’s public holiday — rose 2.0 percent.

Japanese exporters benefited as a resurgent dollar left the yen at its
weakest level in six weeks.

The dollar has returned to early January levels on the US currency’s
longest unbroken rally in two years, as concern builds over poor growth
forecasts in Europe and elsewhere.

Several central banks have fallen in line with the Fed’s dovish stance
since it held interest rates unchanged two weeks ago.

Tokyo-listed exporters such as Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Panasonic all saw
gains.

Sydney rose 0.4 percent, Taipei added 0.7 percent and Seoul 0.5 percent.

Meanwhile US senators announced that an agreement in principle had been
reached to avoid a new government shutdown at the end of the week.

Lawmakers had warned in recent days of a budget impasse in talks dominated
by US President Donald Trump’s demand for funds to build a Mexico border
wall.

But senator Richard Shelby, a key Republican negotiator, said a deal had
been reached late Monday.

Elsewhere, the British pound clawed back some losses after dropping on
dismal monthly GDP and manufacturing data.

– Key figures around 0240 GMT –

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 2.0 percent at 20,745.28

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: DOWN 0.1 percent at 28,112.74

Shanghai – Composite: UP 0.3 percent at 2,662.40

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1283 from $1.1279 at 2200 GMT Monday

Dollar/yen: UP at 110.49 yen from 110.37 yen

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2869 from $1.2859

Oil – West Texas Intermediate: UP 20 cents at $52.61 per barrel

Oil – Brent Crude: UP 35 cents at $61.86 per barrel

New York – Dow: DOWN 0.2 percent at 25,053.11 (close)

London – FTSE 100: UP 0.8 percent at 7,129.11 (close)

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