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Asian Markets Rise On U.S.-China Trade Talk Optimism

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Asian stock markets, with the exception of Australia, are higher on Thursday following news that the U.S. is in the early stages of proposing talks a new round of trade talks with China in the near future.

According to media reports, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has sent an invitation for talks to senior Chinese officials, proposing a meeting in the next few weeks. The news raised hopes that trade tensions between the world's two largest economies will ease.

The Australian market is modestly lower following the mixed cues from Wall Street amid news that the U.S. is proposing a new round of trade talks with China and despite the release of upbeat Australian employment data for the month of August.

In late-morning trades, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is declining 7.80 points or 0.13 percent to 6,168.10, off a low of 6,160.90 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 7.80 points or 0.12 percent to 6,276.10. Australian shares closed marginally lower on Wednesday.

Healthcare stocks are lower. CSL is losing more than 1 percent, ResMed is declining 0.7 percent and Cochlear is down 0.1 percent.

In the banking sector, ANZ Banking, Commonwealth Bank, National Australia Bank and Westpac are down in a range of 0.3 percent to 0.5 percent.

Meanwhile, the major miners are higher. BHP Billiton is advancing 1 percent, while Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals are adding more than 1 percent each.

Gold miner Newcrest Mining is rising more than 1 percent and peer Evolution Mining is up 0.2 percent after gold prices gained overnight.

Oil stocks are also higher after crude oil prices rallied overnight. Oil Search is higher by 0.2 percent, Santos is adding 0.6 percent and Woodside Petroleum is up 0.7 percent.

In economic news, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said that the unemployment rate in Australia came in at a seasonally adjusted 5.3 percent in August. That was in line with expectations and unchanged from the previous month.

The Australian economy added 44,000 jobs in August, beating forecasts for an increase of 18,000 following the loss of 3,900 jobs in July.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is higher against the U.S. dollar on Thursday. The local currency was quoted at $0.7172, up from $0.7098 on Wednesday.

The Japanese market is notably higher following news that the U.S. is proposing a new round of trade talks with China in the near future. Upbeat Japanese core machine orders for the month of July also boosted sentiment.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is rising 240.12 points or 1.06 percent to 22,844.73, after touching a high of 22,858.41 earlier. Japanese shares fell on Wednesday.

The major exporters are higher despite a stronger yen. Mitsubishi Electric and Canon are advancing almost 1 percent, Sony is rising 0.7 percent and Panasonic is adding 0.6 percent.

In the auto space, Toyota is rising more than 1 percent and Honda is advancing almost 2 percent. In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is gaining almost 2 percent and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is adding more than 1 percent.

Among oil stocks, Inpex is rising 3 percent and Japan Petroleum is up almost 2 percent after crude oil prices rose overnight.

Among the major gainers, Chiyoda is higher by more than 5 percent, Toho Zinc is gaining more than 4 percent. Mitsubishi Materials, IHI Corp. and Hitachi Construction Machinery are all up almost 4 percent each.

Tech stocks are among the major losers. TDK Corp. is losing almost 4 percent and Advantest is declining 3 percent. Alps Electric and Tokyo Electron are lower by more than 2 percent each.

On the economic front, the Cabinet Office said that core machine orders in Japan were up a seasonally adjusted 11.0 percent on month in July on Thursday - coming in at 918.6 billion yen. That beat expectations for a gain of 5.5 percent following the 8.8 percent slide in June.

The Bank of Japan said that producer prices in Japan were flat on month in August. That was beneath expectations for an increase of 0.1 percent following the downwardly revised 0.4 percent gain in July.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the lower 111 yen-range on Thursday.

Elsewhere in Asia, Hong Kong is rising more than 1 percent and Indonesia is adding almost 1 percent. South Korea, Singapore, Shanghai, Taiwan, New Zealand, Indonesia and Malaysia are also higher.

On Wall Street, stocks closed mixed on Wednesday as traders seemed reluctant to make significant moves amid lingering uncertainty about the trade dispute between the U.S. and China. Reports the U.S. is proposing a new round of trade talks with China in the near future generated some buying interest, although traders remained skeptical.

While the Nasdaq dipped 18.25 points or 0.2 percent to 7,954.23, the Dow inched up 27.86 points or 0.1 percent to 25,998.92 and the S&P 500 crept up 1.03 points or less than a tenth of a percent to 2,888.92.

The major European markets moved to the upside on Wednesday. While the French CAC 40 Index jumped by 0.9 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index and the German DAX Index rose by 0.6 percent and 0.5 percent, respectively.

Crude oil prices rose on Wednesday after data from EIA showed a notable drop in U.S. crude inventories. WTI crude for October delivery gained $1.12 or 1.6 percent to close at $70.37 a barrel on the New York mercantile Exchange.

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