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Asian shares gain on hopes for progress on China-US trade

/ 12:41 PM February 19, 2019
 Asian shares gain on hopes for progress on China-US trade

People walk past an electronic stock board showing Japan’s Nikkei 225 index at a securities firm in Tokyo Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019. Asian shares are mostly higher as Chinese and U.S. officials prepare for trade talks in Washington this week. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

BANGKOK — Asian shares are mostly higher as Chinese and U.S. officials prepare for trade talks in Washington this week.

U.S. markets were closed Monday for President’s Day.

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Analysts said much is riding on the outcome of the trade talks after an inconclusive end to an earlier round in Beijing last week.

“Without sounding like a damp squib, there is now a vast amount of optimism baked into currency, stock and energy market prices globally and precisely zero concrete detail,” Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst for OANDA, said in a commentary.

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“The unwind, should no deal be struck, could be very ugly,” he said.

The Shanghai Composite index added 0.3 percent to 2,762.73 in early trading, while Japan’s Nikkei 225 edged 0.1 percent higher to 21,297.67. Australia’s S&P ASX 200 climbed 0.4 percent to 6,116.70 and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong rose 0.2 percent to 28,406.18. Shares were mostly higher in Southeast Asia and flat in South Korea.

A truce on tariff increases between the U.S. and China expires March 2 and will leave the U.S. free to more than double import taxes on $200 billion in Chinese goods.

Vice Premier Liu He, China’s economy czar, is due to arrive in Washington on Thursday, China’s state media reported, after two days of preliminary talks by lower-level officials.

President Donald Trump has said he may hold off on these if the country was close to a deal with China.

The U.S. is wrangling over trade with many nations. On Monday, the European Union warned that the bloc will hold back on a commitment to buy more American soybeans and liquefied gas if European cars are hit with punitive tariffs.

ENERGY: U.S. crude added 20 cents to $56.18 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It gained $1.19 on Monday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, lost 31 cents to $66.19 per barrel.

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CURRENCIES: The dollar strengthened to 110.50 yen from 110.60 yen on Monday. The euro slipped to $1.1302 from $1.1309. / gsg

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