© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Man is seen in front of an electronic board showing stock information on the first day of trading in the Year of the Pig at a brokerage house in Hangzhou

By Andrew Galbraith

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Asian shares rose to fresh seven-month highs on Wednesday as global investors took heart from signs of progress in U.S.-China trade talks and brisk economic data, while oil approached the key $70 per barrel mark.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.65 percent shortly after markets in China opened, touching its highest level since late August.

The index has risen nearly 3 percent since Thursday following reports of trade talk progress between the United States and China, as well as reassuring factory activity data from China and the U.S.

Hopes for a deal to end the trade war between the world’s two largest economies were fanned by White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow’s comments on Wednesday that Washington expects “to make more headway” in trade talks this week.

The global run of gains has also pushed MSCI’s key gauge of global equities to a six-month high. The global index was up 0.2 percent on Wednesday morning.

Australian shares were up 0.68 percent, and Japan’s stock index added 0.76 percent. Chinese blue-chips were up about 0.2 percent.

On Tuesday, the fell 0.3 percent to 26,179.13 points, the was flat and the added 0.25 percent to 7,848.69.

“After such a strong rise it is no surprise that the risk rally stalled a little,” said Greg McKenna, strategist at McKenna Macro.

But after a brief consolidation in risk sentiment, U.S. Treasury yields once again ticked higher.

Benchmark yielded 2.4991 percent, up from a U.S. close of 2.479 percent on Tuesday, and the two-year yield touched 2.3226 percent compared with a U.S. close of 2.308 percent.

Oil prices also stood near multi-month highs amid concerns about supply, with rising as much as 0.72 percent to $69.87 per barrel, its highest since November and near the psychologically important level of $70 per barrel.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude jumped 0.37 percent to $62.81 a barrel.

News that the United States is considering more sanctions against Iran, the fourth-largest producer in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), and the halting of production at a crude terminal in Venezuela threaten to squeeze supply and pushed oil prices up on Tuesday.

In currency markets, the pound was about 0.1 percent higher at $1.3138, having recovered its footing after British Prime Minister Theresa May said she would seek another delay to Brexit to work out an EU divorce deal with opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

The dollar strengthened against the yen to 111.47 and the euro added 0.18 percent to buy $1.1222.

The , which tracks the greenback against a basket of six major rivals, eased 0.18 percent to 97.183.

Gold was slightly lower, with trading at $1,292.46 per ounce.

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2019-04-02