Asian stocks rise on reports US, China close to trade deal

BEIJING (AP) – Asian stocks rose yesterday after news reports said Washington and Beijing are close to reaching an agreement as early as this month to end their costly tariff war.

Benchmarks in Shanghai, Tokyo and Seoul advanced after Bloomberg News and The Wall Street Journal, citing unidentified sources, said China was offering to ease tariffs and other restrictions on United States (US) farm, chemical, auto and other products. They said Washington would remove most sanctions on Chinese imports.

A deal might be completed in time to be signed by Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping this month, the reports said. But they cautioned the two sides still were negotiating on the issue that sparked the dispute: Chinese plans for state-led creation of global technology competitors that Washington, Europe and other trading partners say violate Beijing’s market-opening obligations.

The battle between the two biggest global economies has rattled global financial markets for months. Investors worry it will weigh on global economic growth that already is showing signs of slowing.

“Speculation that both the US and China are close to signing a deal will keep market players slightly upbeat,” Nicholas Mapa and Prakash Sakpal of ING said in a report.

The Shanghai Composite Index rose 2.6 per cent to 3,073.03, its highest level since June, and Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 added 1.2 per cent to 21,841.76.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng advanced 1.0 per cent to 29,096.02 and Seoul’s Kospi was 0.3 per cent higher at 2,203.24. Sydney’s S&P-ASX gained 0.5 per cent to 6,221.70. New Zealand and Singapore advanced while Taiwan retreated.

Investors are watching this week’s session of China’s ceremonial national legislature for announcements of official policy on exchange rate policy, trade, industrial policy and possible economic stimulus.

The legislature is due to endorse a law that would address one portion of foreign complaints about Beijing’s regulation system by discouraging officials from pressuring companies to hand over technology.

Forecasters expect the government to announce an annual growth target of at least six per cent. Few major changes are expected, but economists expect more government spending to shore up cooling growth.

WALL STREET: Health care and technology companies helped lift US stocks, breaking a three-day losing streak for the Standard & Poor’s 500 index and giving the benchmark index its fifth straight weekly gain. The S&P 500 climbed 0.7 per cent to 2,803.69. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.4 per cent to 26,026.32. The Nasdaq composite gained 0.8 per cent to 7,595.35.

ENERGY: Benchmark US crude gained 22 cents to USD56.02 per barrel in electronics trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell USD1.40 on Friday to USD55.80. Brent crude, used to price international oils, added 30 cents to USD65.37 per barrel in London. It lost USD1.24 the previous session to USD65.07.

CURRENCY: The dollar rose to 111.99 yen from Friday’s 111.92 yen. The euro retreated to USD1.1365 from USD1.1411.