Asian markets start week with gains

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HONG KONG: Asian markets climbed Monday with Tokyo boosted by a jump in business confidence, but traders are cautiously awaiting a meeting later this week between the presidents of China and the United States.

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Last month saw the Donald Trump-fuelled equities rally stutter as the tycoon failed to push through key health care legislation, casting doubt over the prospects of implementing his tax-cutting and spending pledges.

The meeting between Trump and China’s Xi Jinping in Florida will be closely followed by traders concerned about the global outlook, with the former reality TV star threatening to tear up trade agreements he considers unfair to the US.

He has also hit out at China’s trade policies in the past and even accused it of manipulating its currency to boost its exports.

At the weekend he warned that the upcoming summit “will be a very difficult one in that we can no longer have massive trade deficits”. He also signed an executive order tasking staff to pinpoint countries and goods responsible for America’s nearly $50 billion a month trade deficit.

Analysts said the talks would be the key event for investors this week, which will also see the release of US jobs figures and minutes from the most recent policy decisions of the US and European central banks.

“The meeting between the two presidents has the potential to overshadow the data after President Trump’s tweets Friday about deficits,” said Greg McKenna, chief market strategist at AxiTrader.

Tokyo ended 0.4 percent higher, helped by news that the central bank’s Tankan survey of business sentiment rose in January-March to its highest level since the end of 2015.

“The results simply confirm the economy is recovering,” Takeshi Minami, chief economist at Norinchukin Research Institute, told Bloomberg News.

“Exports are picking up and that’s having a positive impact on production and capital investment. Corporate earnings are good.”

Hong Kong rose 0.6 percent, Seoul ended 0.3 percent higher and Sydney closed up 0.1 percent while Singapore put on 0.3 percent. Manila and Jakarta enjoyed healthy advances.

Shanghai was closed for a public holiday.

In early European trade London rose 0.4 percent, Paris was flat and Frankfurt put on 0.3 percent.

AFP

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