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Asian Shares Rally As U.S.-China Trade Talks Progress


Asian stocks rose across the board on Wednesday, buoyed by optimism that trade talks between the U.S. and China are progressing.

With talks getting extended to Wednesday and U.S. President Donald Trump saying in a tweet that discussions between the world's two largest economies were "going very well," investors are optimistic that a trade deal can be struck ahead of a March 1st deadline established by Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

China's Shanghai Composite Index climbed 17.88 points or 0.7 percent to 2,544.34, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index surged up 586.87 points or 2.3 percent to 26,462.32.

Beijing approved the import of five genetically modified crops on Tuesday, the first in about 18 months in a bid to boost its purchases of U.S. grains.

Japanese shares rose for a third day amid signs of progress in the U.S.-China trade talks. The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index jumped 223.02 points or 1.1 percent to 20,427.06, while the broader Topix closed up 1.1 percent at 1,535.11.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Komatsu, Panasonic, Pacific Metals, Yaskawa Electric and Daikin Industries rallied 3-4 percent. Astellas Pharma gained 2.7 percent to hit a three-week high after its drug Evenity received a world-first approval in Japan.

Chip-related stocks underperformed, with Advantest falling 2.5 percent after Goldman Sachs said it expects semiconductor companies to face a challenging year ahead.

Australian stocks hit a five-week high after Wall Street closed higher for a third straight session overnight. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index advanced 55.90 points 1 percent to finish at 5,778.30 amid broad-based gains. The broader All Ordinaries Index climbed 55.10 points or 1 percent to 5,838.40.

Healthcare stocks led the surge, with CSL and Cochlear rising around 3 percent. Energy stocks such as Origin Energy, Woodside Petroleum, Oil Search and Santos rose 1-3 percent after oil prices jumped more than 2 percent on Tuesday on reports about output reductions by oil producers. Banks ANZ, NAB and Westpac rose between 0.9 percent and 1.3 percent.

Meanwhile, shares of Navigator Global Investments slumped 27.6 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.

On the data front, the service sector in Australia continued to expand in December, albeit at a slower pace, the latest survey from the Australian Industry Group showed with a Performance of Service Index score of 52.1, down from 55.1 in November.

South Korean stocks rallied on growing optimism over a trade deal between the U.S. and China. The benchmark Kospi jumped 39.44 points or 2 percent to finish at 2,064.71, posting its biggest single-day gain since November.

Shares of electric and electronic and transportation equipment led the surge after China said it would unveil policies to boost domestic spending on items such as autos and home appliances.

Tech heavyweights Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix closed higher by 3.9 percent and 7.4 percent, respectively, even as Samsung forecast a decline in quarterly operating profit for the first time in two years.

New Zealand shares rallied on improved prospects for a U.S.-China trade deal. The benchmark S&P/NZX 50 Index jumped 126.07 points or 1.4 percent to 8,947.22, led by consumer staple stocks such as A2 Milk, which surged up 3.7 percent.

U.S. stocks rose for a third straight session on Tuesday, marking the longest winning streak for major indexes since late November.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite both surged up around 1.1 percent, while the S&P 500 added 1 percent.

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