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Asian Shares Mostly Higher As Trade War Fears Ease

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Asian stocks ended mostly higher on Wednesday amid optimism about U.S.-China trade talks after U.S. President Donald Trump gave hints at extending an early March deadline to reach an agreement before raising tariffs.

China's Shanghai Composite Index jumped 49.17 points or 1.8 percent to 2,721.07, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index surged up 326.26 points or 1.2 percent to 28,497.59.

Japanese shares rose sharply to hit a nearly two-month high after Trump said he's open to extending the deadline to raise tariffs on Chinese products and U.S. lawmakers reached an agreement in principle to avoid another government shutdown.

The Nikkei 225 Index spiked 280.27 points or 1.3 percent to 21,144.48, the highest level since December 17. The broader Topix closed up 1.1 percent at 1,589.33.

SoftBank Group jumped 4.9 percent and Fanuc advanced 2.4 percent, while oil explorer Inpex soared 12.5 percent after raising its annual profit forecast.

Kabu.com Securities rallied 5.9 percent after KDDI said it would buy a minority stake in the online brokerage company.

Meanwhile, Australian stocks gave up early gains to end lower as improved consumer confidence figures for February dashed hopes for an interest rate cut.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index dropped 15.50 points or 0.3 percent to 6,063.60, while the broader All Ordinaries Index edged down 8.50 points or 0.1 percent to 6,140.20.

Pharma giant CSL tumbled almost 4 percent despite posting a rise in first-half profits, while lender Commonwealth Bank of Australia lost 2.9 percent on going ex-dividend.

Mining heavyweights BHP Group and Rio Tinto shed 0.6 percent and 1 percent, respectively after a sharp decrease in iron ore futures.

On the other hand, Oil Search and Santos climbed around 2 percent as Goldman Sachs doubled down on its bullish outlook for oil. Airline Virgin Australia soared 7.7 percent as it recorded a turnaround to a profit in the first half of the year.

Seoul stocks extended gains for a third straight session amid easing trade tensions. The benchmark Kospi rose 11.01 points or 0.5 percent to 2,201.48.

Chemical stocks led the surge, with LG Chem rising 1.8 percent and Lotte Chemical soaring 5.8 percent, while automakers Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors fell over 3 percent.

New Zealand shares ended notably higher and the kiwi rose over 1 percent to reach a one-week high after the Reserve Bank of New Zealand kept its official cash rate at a record low of 1.75 percent for the 15th straight meeting and emphasized its neutral stance. The benchmark S&P/NZX-50 Index climbed 52.61 points or 0.6 percent to 9,333.38.

U.S. stocks rose overnight as Trump downplayed the chances of another government shutdown and indicated he could delay new tariffs on Chinese imports if the two sides are near an agreement.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite rallied around 1.5 percent, while the S&P 500 surged up 1.3 percent.

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