Asian shares mostly higher on US-China trade deal optimism

Asian shares were mostly higher Wednesday, cheered by prospects for a resolution to the costly trade dispute between the U.S. and China, which had also sent Wall Street indexes higher.

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Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 added 1.5 percent to 21,185.59 in morning trading, while Australia's S&P/ASX 200 slipped 0.3 percent to 6,062.80. South Korea's Kospi edged up 0.3 percent to 2,197.50. Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained nearly 0.4 percent to 28,270.46, while the Shanghai Composite index stood at 2,686.23, up 0.5 percent.

President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he might let a March 2 deadline slide in trade talks with China if the two countries get close to a deal. Earlier, the White House had called the date a "hard deadline."

Both nations are trying to reach a deal before March 1. That's when additional tariffs will kick in, escalating the conflict and further hurting companies and consumers with higher prices on materials and products.

A pan-Pacific trade dispute is detrimental to the export-dependent Asian region, and a slowdown in growth in China will hurt neighboring economies, such as Japan's.

WALL STREET: The S&P 500 index gained 34.93 points, or 1.3 percent, to 2,744.73. The Dow climbed 372.65 points, or 1.5 percent, to 25,425.76. The index was briefly up by 405 points. The Nasdaq composite rose 106.71 points, or 1.5 percent, to 7,414.62. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks, which has been leading the other indexes this year, added 19.25 points, or 1.3 percent, to 1,538.23.

ENERGY: U.S. benchmark crude rose 50 cents to $53.60 a barrel. It rose 1.3 percent to settle at $53.10 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, the standard for international oil prices, gained 53 cents to $62.95 per barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 110.63 yen from 110.50 yen Tuesday. The euro strengthened to $1.1338 from $1.1285.


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