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Asian stocks rise ahead of new round of US-China trade talks

SINGAPORE — Asian stocks were mostly higher on Monday as traders watched for developments on a fresh round of trade talks between American and Chinese officials in Beijing this week. Markets in China and Taiwan, reopening after a weeklong Lunar New Year break, posted broad gains.

KEEPING SCORE: The Shanghai Composite index jumped 1.1 per cent to 2,646.45. The Kospi in South Korea advanced 0.2 per cent to 2,180.73 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 0.3 per cent to 28,038.09. Australia’s S&P ASX 200 was 0.2 per cent lower at 6,060.80. Stocks rose in Taiwan but fell in Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia. Japanese markets were closed for a holiday.

WALL STREET: Gains by technology and consumer goods companies lifted most U.S. indexes on Friday. They more than balanced out losses by financial stocks and retailers after a mixed bag of quarterly earnings. The broad S&P 500 index climbed 0.1 per cent to 2,707.88 and the Nasdaq composite rose 0.1 per cent to 7,298.20. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.3 per cent to 25,106.33. The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks advanced 0.1 per cent to 1,506.39.

U.S-CHINA TALKS: Officials from the U.S. and China will gather in Beijing for trade talks on Thursday and Friday. U.S. Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin and trade representative Robert Lighthizer will lead the American delegation at the talks, which are aimed at bringing both sides closer to resolving deep-seated issues such as unhappiness over Beijing’s technology policy. Lower-level negotiations are set to begin Monday, but a resolution isn’t expected before a truce on tariffs expires in early March. Any agreement before then, or a simple extension of the truce, will be viewed as a positive for markets. If not, the U.S. is expected to raise import taxes from 10 per cent to 25 per cent on $200 billion in Chinese goods.

ANALYST’S TAKE: “After the worst December and best January in years, it appears that we are back at inflection point across various asset classes, waiting for direction yet again,” Jingyi Pan of IG said in a market commentary.

ENERGY: U.S. crude lost 64 cents to $52.08 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It gained 8 cents to settle at $52.72 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, shed 48 cents to $61.62 per barrel. It added 47 cents to close at $62.10 per barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 109.95 yen from 109.73 yen late Friday. The euro strengthened to $1.1328 from $1.1324.

Annabelle Liang, The Associated Press

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