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Asia report: Most markets rise on fresh trade optimism

By Josh White

Date: Friday 15 Nov 2019

Asia report: Most markets rise on fresh trade optimism

(Sharecast News) - Most markets in Asia finished the last trading session of the week on a positive note on Friday, as investors did their best to digest the latest development in the never-ending saga that is the US-China trade war.
In Japan, the Nikkei 225 was up 0.7% at 23,303.32, as the yen weakened 0.27% against the dollar to last trade at JPY 108.71.

Technology conglomerate SoftBank Group fell 0.68%, while the other major components of the benchmark index were positive, with Fanuc rising 0.6% and Fast Retailing adding 0.04%.

The broader Topix index was also in the green in Tokyo, rising 0.73% to end the trading day at 1,696.67,

On the mainland, the Shanghai Composite lost 0.64% to close at 2,891.34, and the technology-focussed Shenzhen Composite slid 1.13% to 1,605.70.

South Korea's Kospi was 1.07% higher at 2,162.18, while the Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong eked out gains of 0.01% to settle at 26,326.66.

The blue-chip technology stocks were both higher in Seoul, with chipmaker SK Hynix adding 2.16% and industry behemoth Samsung Electronics 1.7% firmer.

Trade was, as ever, very much at the top of the agenda during the Asian day, with sentiment given a boost early on after White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow told media that Washington was "getting close" to reaching an agreement with Beijing.

The week had been marred by ongoing uncertainty over the prospects of a trade deal, after a number of mixed messages from both sides of the Pacific.

Reports emerged early in the week that negotiations between the world's two largest economies had hit a roadblock over the question of agricultural purchases, while Chinese Ministry of Commerce spokesperson Gao Feng said on Thursday that both sides were holding serious discussions for a first-phase deal.

He did note, however, that rolling back punitive tariffs on both sides remained key to a deal being struck.

"The trade war was begun with adding tariffs, and should be ended by canceling these additional tariffs," Gao Feng said.

"This is an important condition for both sides to reach an agreement."

CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson said most market participants would be hoping that both parties would be able to get the ball in the cup.

"The constant prevarication about whether we'll see a phase one deal by year end is becoming tiresome."

Oil prices were lower as the region hung up their trading jackets for the week, with Brent crude last down 0.52% at $61.96 per barrel, and West Texas Intermediate off 0.14% at $56.69.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 was 0.87% firmer, closing at 6,793.70, as the hefty financials subindex added 0.51% in Sydney.

Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand's S&P/NZX 50 was down 0.04% at 10,894.70, with the country's energy companies under the cosh over the future of the Rio Tinto-controlled New Zealand Aluminium Smelters operation - the country's single largest electricity consumer.

Contact Energy was down 0.4% by the end of play in Wellington, while Genesis Energy lost 1.9%, Mercury NZ fell 2.3%, and the country's biggest listed firm Meridian Energy declined 1.5%.

Both of the down under dollars were stronger on the greenback, with the Aussie last ahead 0.22% at AUD 1.4702, and the Kiwi advancing 0.14% to NZD 1.5647.

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