Saturday, January 19, 2019 | ePaper

Asian markets build on trade optimism, pound faces pressure

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AFP, Hong Kong :
Asian markets enjoyed more gains Thursday as investors are cheered by the more conciliatory noises from China  and the US on trade, while uncertainty over Brexit continued to pressure the pound.
While the tariffs row between Beijing and Washington is far from being resolved, there is a lot more optimism on trading floors this week that the world's top two economies can make headway in talks over the next three months.
The latest buying queues came from a report that Beijing is considering replacing its "Made in China 2025" programme that aims to boost its technology sector, a key point in anger for Washington.
The Wall Street Journal said authorities were looking at putting back the scheme's timetable by a decade to concentrate on improving standards.
That followed news China had agreed to resume importing soybeans - a major boost for US farmers - as well as remove a levy on US autos imposed earlier this year in response to Donald Trump's initial tariffs.
China's technology concession "is far more relevant than China agreeing to restart purchases of American soybeans, or even reducing the tariff on US car imports", said National Australia Bank strategist Ray Attrill.
Canada's release on bail of a top executive at Chinese telecoms giant Huawei, whose arrest had sparked fears of an adverse impact on the trade talks, also soothed worries.
Asian markets extended Wednesday's gains, which helped reverse some of the huge losses suffered last week.
Tokyo ended the morning one percent higher, while Hong Kong and Shanghai both surged 1.3 percent.
Sydney climbed 0.4 percent and Seoul was 0.5 percent higher, while Singapore and Taipei each rose 0.3 percent. Wellington, Manila and Jakarta were also well in positive territory.

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