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Asian Markets Rise On Trade Talk Optimism

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Asian stock markets are mostly higher on Monday following the positive cues from Wall Street Friday and higher commodity prices amid optimism about U.S.-China trade talks that are set to continue in Washington this week. A statement from the White House said high level U.S.-China trade talks this week led to "progress between the two parties", but noted "much work remains."

The Australian market is rising, with most sectors seeing gains. Investors also digested mixed corporate earnings results.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 25.60 points or 0.42 percent to 6,091.70, after rising to a high of 6,115.70 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 24.20 points or 0.39 percent to 6,172.80. Australian stocks edged up higher on Friday.

The big four banks are modestly higher. ANZ Banking, Commonwealth Bank and National Australia Bank are higher in a range of 0.1 percent to 0.3 percent.

Westpac's shares are rising 0.2 percent after the lender reported first-quarter unaudited cash earnings of A$2.04 billion, while its statutory net profit was A$1.95 billion.

In the oil sector, Woodside Petroleum and Santos are advancing more than 1 percent each, while Oil Search is rising more than 2 percent after crude oil prices gained more than 2 percent on Friday.

Among the major miners, BHP Group and Fortescue Metals are advancing more than 1 percent each, while Rio Tinto is rising almost 2 percent.

Gold miners are also higher after gold prices rose to a two-week high on Friday. Evolution Mining and Newcrest Mining are adding more than 1 percent each.

Ansell posted a 91 percent fall in first-half net profit, but raised its full-year earnings outlook. The health and safety manufacturer's shares are rising more than 2 percent.

NIB Holdings reported a 5 percent increase in first-half profit and also lifted its interim dividend as well as full-year underlying profit outlook. The health insurer's shares are down 0.6 percent.

Brambles reported a 27 percent decline in first-half profit and said it expects to spin off its IFCO reusable plastic container business during 2019. The global logistics company's shares are losing almost 3 percent.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is higher against the U.S. dollar on Monday. The local currency was quoted at $0.7143, down from $0.7092 on Friday.

The Japanese market is advancing following the positive cues from Wall Street Friday amid optimism about the U.S.-China trade talks that will resume in Washington this week. Better-than-expected Japanese core machine orders data also boosted investor sentiment.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is gaining 374.36 points or 1.79 percent to 21,274.99, after rising to a high of 21,278.40 earlier. Japanese shares fell sharply on Friday.

The major exporters are mostly higher on a weaker yen. Mitsubishi Electric is advancing almost 2 percent, while Canon and Panasonic are up 0.2 percent each. Sony is down 0.6 percent.

In the tech sector, Advantest is rising 1 percent and Tokyo Electron is advancing almost 1 percent.

Among the major automakers, Toyota is up 0.6 percent and Honda is adding almost 1 percent. In the banking space, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is rising almost 3 percent and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is higher by more than 3 percent.

In the oil space, Inpex is adding almost 3 percent and Japan Petroleum is higher by 4 percent after crude oil prices gained more than 2 percent on Friday.

Among the other major gainers, Showa Shell Sekiyu, Bridgestone and Mitsui E&S Holdings are rising more than 5 percent each, while Asahi Kasei and Yaskawa Electric are gaining almost 5 percent each.

On the flip side, Olympus Corp. is losing almost 2 percent.

On the economic front, the Cabinet Office said that the value of core machine orders in Japan eased 0.1 percent on month in December, exceeding expectations for a decline of 1.0 percent following the flat reading in November.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the mid 110 yen-range on Monday.

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

On Wall Street, stocks closed higher on Friday amid continued optimism about trade talks between the U.S. and China. A statement from the White House said high level U.S.-China trade talks this week led to "progress between the two parties" but noted "much work remains." Traders also reacted positively to news that lawmakers and President Donald Trump managed to avoid another government shutdown.

The Dow soared 443.86 points or 1.7 percent to 25,883.25, the Nasdaq climbed 45.46 points or 0.6 percent to 7,472.41 and the S&P 500 jumped 29.87 points or 1.1 percent to 2,775.60.

The European stocks showed strong moves to the upside on Friday. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index climbed by 0.6 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index surged up by 1.8 percent and 1.9 percent, respectively.

Crude oil futures ended sharply higher on Friday, lifted by recent data showing declines in crude output from OPEC. Crude for March delivery surged up $1.18 or 2.2 percent to $55.59 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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