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Asian shares advance as investors watch US-China trade talks

SeattlePI.com Monday, 18 March 2019
TOKYO (AP) — Shares rose in Asia on Monday as investors awaited signs the U.S. and China could be making progress in negotiations on resolving the trade war between the two biggest economies.

Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 added 0.7 percent in morning trading to 21,591.90. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.1 percent to 6,181.20. South Korea's Kospi was flat at 2,174.61. Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained nearly 0.4 percent to 29,119.08, while the Shanghai Composite rose 0.6 percent to 3,038.93.

China's congress on Friday endorsed an investment law that aims to address complaints, particularly from the U.S., that China's system is rigged against foreign companies. The U.S. claims China forces companies to share technology in order to do business in the country.

"U.S.-China trade war concerns were a major factor of a global growth downgrade," said Alfonso Esparza, an analyst with Oanda. "While comments from both sides have been positive, there have been few details on where negotiations stand. The delay could once again spark anxiety in the market."

Wall Street ended last week on an upbeat note, with the S&P 500 gaining 0.5 percent Friday to 2,822.48, a new high for the year. The Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 0.5 percent to 25,848.87. The Nasdaq composite climbed 0.8 percent, to 7,688.53. The S&P 500's gain was 0.5 percent. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies picked up 3.90 points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,553.54.

U.S. stocks have had a strong showing this year, with all the major indexes gaining at least 10 percent.

Traders are also confident that the Federal Reserve will hold off on any action that could jeopardize economic growth. The central bank, which signaled in January that it was hitting pause on its rate hikes amid a slowdown in global growth and weak inflation, is holding a meeting of...
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