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Asian shares mixed after China-US trade talks show progress

/ 01:18 PM April 08, 2019

BANGKOK – Shares were mixed in Asia on Monday after trade talks between China and the U.S. wrapped up with officials on both sides claiming progress and the U.S. government reported a strong rebound in hiring in March.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index slipped 0.2% to 21,762.19 and the Shanghai Composite index edged 0.1% lower to 3,243.64.

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South Korea’s Kospi lost 0.1% to 2,207.70, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index added 0.3% to 30,023.16.

Shares rose in Taiwan but fell in Singapore and Indonesia.

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China’s official news agency said Sunday that trade talks with the U.S. in Washington last week “achieved new progress.”

It said remaining issues will be handled through “various effective means” but did not elaborate on where or when further discussions will happen.

It said three-day talks that ended Friday dealt with issues including technology transfer, intellectual property rights protection, non-tariff measures, agriculture and enforcement.

Beijing and Washington are working to end a standoff over Beijing’s industrial and technology policies that has shaken financial markets and darkened the world economic outlook.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement Friday that “significant work remains” and the two sides would be in continuous contact.

Wall Street closed out another solid week of gains Friday, logging its longest winning streak in a year and a half. A strong rebound in hiring eased worries that the U.S. economy is slowing too sharply, helping to keep traders in a buying mood.

The unemployment rate last month remained near a 50-year low of 3.8%. Average hourly earnings rose 3.2% in March from a year earlier, which was weaker than economists’ forecasts. Markets pay close attention to the numbers because while higher wages help workers afford to buy more things, they also crimp corporate profit margins.

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The S&P 500 rose 0.5% to 2,892.74. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.2% to 26,424.99. The Nasdaq composite climbed 0.6% to 7,938.69, and the Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks picked up 1% to 1,582.56.

Profitability is a top concern as companies line up to begin reporting their first-quarter results next week.

ENERGY: The strong jobs report has helped expectations for oil demand, and benchmark U.S. crude rose 32 cents to $63.40 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It gained 1.6% to settle at $63.08 a barrel on Friday. Brent crude, the international standard, picked up 33 cents to $70.67 per barrel. It added 1.4% to close at $70.34 on Friday.

CURRENCIES: The dollar weakened to 111.35 Japanese yen from 111.73 yen while the euro rose to $1.1231 from $1.1217. /gsg

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