Asian stocks rise on optimism for trade talks, shutdown deal

Published February 12, 2019, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Agence France-Presse

Asian stocks advanced Tuesday on optimism over US-China trade talks and a provisional deal to avoid a Washington shutdown, while the weak yen boosted exporters.

A pedestrian walks past an electronics stock indicator in Tokyo. (Photo: AFP/ MANILA BULLETIN)
A pedestrian walks past an electronics stock indicator in Tokyo. (Photo: AFP/ MANILA BULLETIN)

Initial trade talks are under way in Beijing aimed at averting punitive tariffs which could slow the global economy.

Top-level negotiators are set to arrive in the Chinese capital for meetings Thursday and Friday, ahead of a March 1 deal deadline.

Investors responded positively to reports that Donald Trump wants to meet Xi Jinping “very soon”, just days after the US president had appeared to write off an imminent summit with his counterpart.

“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.

Washington is demanding changes from Beijing on what it says are unfair commercial practices.

Failure by the economic superpowers to reach an agreement would see US tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports more than double.

Meanwhile, US lawmakers said they had reached an agreement in principle on border security.

The announcement assuaged fears of a chaotic repeat of the recent 35-day partial US government shutdown — the longest in the country’s history.

The agreement included $1.4 billion in funding for a wall on the US-Mexico border — a key campaign promise of Trump.

News of the deal — which still needs to be accepted — came as the president stirred up border controversy at a raucous rally in the frontier city of El Paso.

Hong Kong edged up 0.1 percent, while Shanghai gained 0.7 percent.

Sydney added 0.3 percent, Seoul rose 0.5 percent, and Taipei jumped 0.9 percent.

Tokyo — returning from Monday’s public holiday — leapt 2.6 percent, as Japanese exporters further benefited from a resurgent dollar, which left the yen at its weakest level since the start of 2019.