Asian markets were mostly higher on Friday as U.S. and Chinese officials kicked off a fresh round of trade talks in Beijing.
The Shanghai Composite index
added 0.6% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng
jumped 1.7%. South Korea’s Kospi
Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225
rose 1%. The country’s retail sales fell slightly in February from a month earlier, preliminary data showed. But industrial production rose 1.4%, as compared to January’s 3.4% decline. The unemployment rate beat market expectations, falling to 2.3% in February from 2.5% in the previous month.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200
was up 0.2%. Shares rose in Taiwan
but fell in Indonesia
Among individual stocks, SoftBank
gained in Tokyo trading, and China Life Insurance
advanced in Hong Kong. Samsung
slipped in Korea, while BHP
and Rio Tinto
rose in Australia.
U.S. negotiators, led by Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, attended a working dinner Thursday night with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, who is expected to travel to Washington next week.
The three of them posed for a photo at a government guesthouse before negotiations resumed on Friday but did not talk to reporters.
“Investor eyes will be glued to news feeds looking for any more details — rumored or true — emerging from the talks. This could cause some abrupt intra-day volatility across the markets,” Jingyi Pan of IG said in a market commentary.
News about the talks was read as largely positive by the markets. At a speech in Washington on Thursday, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said the U.S. administration was prepared to continue trade negotiations with China for weeks or even months. This was taken as a sign of commitment to reaching a deal.
On Wall Street, traders shrugged off a discouraging announcement by the Commerce Department. It said U.S. economic growth had slowed sharply in the last three months of 2018 to an annual rate of just 2.2%, due to weakness in consumer spending, business investment, government spending and housing.
Most indexes finished higher, as bond yields rose and financial, technology and industrial stocks climbed. The broad S&P 500 index
was 0.4% higher at 2,815.44. The Dow Jones Industrial Average
also gained 0.4% to 25,717.46. The Nasdaq composite
rose 0.3% to 7,669.17.
Benchmark U.S. crude
added 35 cents to $59.65 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It lost 11 cents to settle at $59.30 per barrel on Thursday. Brent crude
, used to price international oils, edged up 37 cents to $67.47 per barrel. The contract shed 14 cents to $67.10 per barrel in London.
strengthened to 110.78 yen from 110.63 yen.
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