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Asian Markets Higher As U.S.-China Trade Talks Extended


Asian stock markets are higher on Wednesday amid optimism that the U.S. and China will reach a trade deal after U.S. President Donald Trump said that talks were going very well. Negotiations between the world's two largest economies will continue for an unscheduled third day today.

The Australian market is rising for the third straight day following the overnight gains on Wall Street amid optimism about U.S.-China trade talks. Oil and mining stocks are among the leading gainers, while bank stocks are subdued.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 30.00 points or 0.52 percent to 5,752.40, off a high of 5,753.70 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 29.80 points or 0.52 percent to 5,813.10. The Australian market closed notably higher on Tuesday.

Oil stocks are gaining after crude oil prices rose more than 2 percent overnight. Santos is adding more than 1 percent, Oil Search is advancing almost 2 percent and Woodside Petroleum is rising more than 2 percent.

The major miners are also mostly higher. Fortescue Metals is higher by more than 1 percent and Rio Tinto is adding 0.5 percent, while BHP Group is declining 0.6 percent.

Gold miner Newcrest Mining is edging up 0.1 percent, while Evolution Mining is down 0.3 percent after gold prices declined overnight.

The major banks are modestly lower. ANZ Banking, National Australia Bank and Westpac are all edging down 0.1 percent each, while Commonwealth Bank is down 0.3 percent.

Shares of Navigator Global Investments are falling more than 29 percent after the fund manager said that increased volatility and the downturn in global asset markets over the December 2018 quarter reduced its assets under management.

In economic news, the latest survey from the Australian Industry Group showed that the service sector in Australia continued to expand in December, albeit at a slower pace, with a Performance of Service Index score of 52.1. That's down from 55.1 in November, although it remains above the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction.

Australia will also release November numbers for building approvals today.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is higher against the U.S. dollar on Wednesday. The local currency was quoted at $0.7144, up from $0.7129 on Tuesday.

The Japanese market is extending its winning streak to a third day following the positive cues overnight from Wall Street.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is rising 203.64 points or 1.01 percent to 20,407.68, after touching a high of 20,428.86 earlier. Japanese shares rose on Tuesday.

Among the major exporters, Panasonic is rising more than 3 percent, Sony is advancing more than 1 percent, Mitsubishi Electric is higher by almost 1 percent and Canon is adding 0.5 percent.

The Nikkei reported, citing a Sony executive, that the company will consider moving some production out of China if the U.S. moves ahead with higher tariffs.

In the tech sector, Advantest is losing more than 4 percent, while Tokyo Electron is adding 0.4 percent. Among the major automakers, Honda and Toyota are rising 0.4 percent each.

In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is lower by 0.2 percent, while Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is adding 0.3 percent. In the oil space, Inpex is edging down less than 0.1 percent and Japan Petroleum is declining almost 1 percent despite a more than 2 percent increase in crude oil prices overnight.

Among the other major gainers, Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma is rising more than 6 percent, while Kikkoman, Cyberagent and Recruit Holdings are higher by almost 5 percent each.

A court in South Korea has approved a request to seize South Korean assets of Japanese steelmaking giant Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp. for refusing to comply with a court order to pay compensation to four South Koreans for wartime forced labor. However, shares of Nippon Steel are advancing more than 1 percent.

On the flip side, Taiyo Yuden is losing almost 7 percent and Chiyoda Corp. is declining more than 3 percent.

On the economic front, Japan will provide November figures for labor cash earnings today.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the upper 108 yen-range on Wednesday.

Elsewhere in Asia, Hong Kong is advancing more than 2 percent, while South Korea is adding almost 2 percent. Shanghai, New Zealand and Taiwan are all rising more than 1 percent each. Singapore Indonesia and Malaysia are also higher.

On Wall Street, stocks closed higher on Tuesday for the third straight session amid optimism about trade talks between the U.S. and China. The second day of negotiations coincided with an unannounced visit by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, with some analysts saying China could use Kim's visit as a bargaining chip in the trade talks.

The Dow surged up 256.10 points or 1.1 percent to 23,787.45, the Nasdaq jumped 73.53 points or 1.1 percent to 6,897.00 and the S&P 500 shot up 24.72 points or 1 percent to 2,574.41.

The major European markets also moved to the upside on Tuesday. While the French CAC 40 Index jumped by 1.2 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index and the German DAX Index climbed by 0.7 percent and 0.5 percent, respectively.

Crude oil prices moved up sharply on Tuesday, extending gains to a seventh successive session, riding on optimism about U.S.-China trade discussions and reports about output reductions by oil producers. WTI crude for February ended up $1.26 or 2.6 percent at $49.78 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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