Asian markets gained in early trading Thursday, after the U.S. Federal Reserve kept interest rates unchanged but indicated it is ready to make ease monetary policy if needed.

The Fed said it will “closely monitor” the economy given increasing uncertainty about government policy, though it signaled it may not need to lower rates before 2020. But Chairman Jerome Powell indicated that the central bank is prepared to cut interest rates if necessary.

There was also encouraging news on the trade front, as U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said he plans to meet his Chinese counterpart ahead of the G-20 summit next week. “When actual negotiations begin again, I can’t say at this point,” Lighthizer said. “We’re talking. We’re going to meet.” The U.S. and China broke off trade negotiations in early May and have not met since.

Japan’s Nikkei

NIK, +0.68%

  rose 0.6% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index

HSI, +1.01%

  gained 0.9%. The Shanghai Composite

SHCOMP, +2.58%

  surged 2% while the smaller-cap Shenzhen Composite

399106, +2.15%

  advanced 1.6%. South Korea’s Kospi

180721, +0.22%

  was about flat, while benchmark indexes in Taiwan

Y9999, +0.00%

 , Singapore

STI, +0.79%

  and Indonesia

JAKIDX, -0.12%

  were mixed. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200

XJO, +0.28%

  rose 0.2%.

Among individual stocks, Uniqlo parent Fast Retailing

9983, +1.44%

  rose in Tokyo trading, along with Sony

6758, +0.92%

  and e-commerce company Rakuten

4755, +1.98%

 . In Hong Kong, Geely Automobile

175, +4.87%

 , parent of Volvo Cars, gained after announcing a deal with Sweden’s Zenuity to supply it with self-driving software. China Life Insurance

2628, +3.30%

  and Tencent

700, +1.61%

 also rose. Samsung

005930, +0.00%

  inched down in South Korea and Foxconn

2354, +2.42%

  advanced in Taiwan. Rio Tinto

RIO, -4.04%

  sank in Australia, while Beach Energy

BPT, +1.90%

  gained.

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2019-06-19