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Asian Shares Rebound On Trade Deal Hopes

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Asian stocks rebounded from a 3-1/2-month low on Wednesday after U.S. President Donald Trump downplayed the scope of the trade war with China and said dialogue would continue. Sentiment was also boosted by hopes of Beijing unveiling more stimulus.

Chinese shares posted strong gains as weak data reinforced expectations that the government will launch stimulus measures to support the economy.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index jumped 55.07 points or 1.9 percent to 2,938.68, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index climbed 146.69 points or 0.5 percent to 28,268.71.

Chinese industrial production and retail sales growth eased more than expected in April, suggesting weak economic activity at the start of second quarter.

Industrial production advanced 5.4 percent year-on-year in April following March's 8.5 percent spike. The growth rate was forecast to slow moderately to 6.5 percent.

Likewise, annual growth in retail sales eased to 7.2 percent from 8.7 percent a month ago. Sales were expected to expand 8.6 percent.

On the positive side, fixed asset investment climbed 6.1 percent during January to April compared to the 6.3 percent expansion logged in January to March. Economists had forecast 6.4 percent growth.

Property investment increased 11.9 percent in the four months to April following the 11.8 percent rise in the January to March period.

Japanese shares rose to snap a seven-day losing streak on expectations that Beijing will boost stimulus spending and bank lending to boost slowing growth.

The Nikkei 225 Index ended a choppy session up by 121.33 points or 0.6 percent at 21,188.56, while the broader Topix closed 0.6 percent higher at 1,544.15.

Exporters led the advance as the dollar rose against the yen. Canon, Panasonic, Hitachi and Sony climbed 1-4 percent. Mitsubishi Estate jumped 9.2 percent on share buyback news.

On the other hand, Nissan Motor plunged 6.5 percent after the automaker posted disappointing fiscal 2018 earnings.

Drug maker Takeda Pharmaceutical slumped 7.8 percent after forecasting an unexpected operating loss for the current year due to costs associated with the multibillion-dollar Shire deal.

Australian markets advanced in light trading as Trump downplayed his escalating tariff war with China. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index climbed 44.30 points or 0.7 percent to 6,284.20, while the broader All Ordinaries Index ended up 43.70 points or 0.7 percent at 6,370.90.

Miners recovered despite China's steel futures struggling near five-week lows. Heavyweights BHP and Rio Tinto jumped around 2 percent.

Energy stocks such as Woodside Petroleum, Santos, Origin Energy and Oil Search rose 1-2 percent after a drone attack on Saudi Aramco's facilities.

Meanwhile, gold minders fell on profit taking on improved risk appetite. Northern Star Resources dropped 1.4 percent and Regis Resources lost 2.1 percent.

In economic news, Australian consumer confidence improved in May, data from Westpac showed. The Westpac-Melbourne Institute Index of Consumer Sentiment rose to 101.3 in May from 100.7 in April.

Seoul stocks gained ground as investors cheered Trump's optimistic remarks on the prospects of a U.S.-China trade deal. The benchmark Kospi rose 10.94 points or 0.5 percent to 2,092.78.

New Zealand shares rose notably, with the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 Index ending up 61.23 points or 0.6 percent at 10,131.58. Exporter Fisher & Paykel Healthcare rose 0.6 percent and dairy giant a2 Milk Company jumped 2.6 percent on a weak kiwi dollar.

Overnight, U.S. stocks rose amid bargain hunting after President Trump indicated that he would be meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G20 Summit in Japan late next month.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.8 percent to rebound from its lowest closing level in three months, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite surged up 1.1 percent and the S&P 500 added 0.8 percent.

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