Asian Markets Gain on Japan Data, Awaiting U.S.-China Meeting

A man walks by an electronic stock board of a securities firm in Tokyo, Monday. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

Asian markets were mostly higher Monday, cheered by a positive report on the Japanese economy, as players awaited a meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart later in the week.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 added 0.6 percent to 19,033.52, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 inched down 0.1 percent to 5,858.60. South Korea’s Kospi rose 0.3 percent to 2,166.07. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 0.4 percent to 24,195.21. Shanghai’s bourse was closed for a holiday.

Markets are closely watching for the outcome of the meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mr. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in south Florida later this week. The two are expected to discuss various contentious issues including North Korea, trade and territorial disputes in the South China Sea during their summit on Thursday and Friday.

“The start of the week marks the first trading day of the month and quarter, also kick starting an action-packed week with various items to keep watch on. U.S. non-farm payrolls, the meeting between the leaders of the U.S. and China, and the U.S. central bank March meeting minutes are some of the few items lined up ahead,” said Jingyi Pan, market strategist at IG.

Japanese manufacturers are feeling slightly more upbeat than they were late last year, according to a quarterly survey by the Bank of Japan. The survey’s findings fell slightly below economists’ forecasts, but were seen as a sign exports are underpinning growth in the world’s No. 3 economy.

The Dow slid 0.3 percent to 20,663.22 on Friday. The S&P 500 lost 0.2 percent to 2,362.72 and the Nasdaq fell 2.61 points to 5,911.74.

Benchmark U.S. crude lost 8 cents to $50.52 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It added 25 cents to close at $50.60 per barrel on Friday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, slipped 13 cents to $53.40 a barrel.

In currency trading, the euro weakened to $1.0680 from $1.0737 and the dollar rose to 111.41 yen from 111.30 yen late Friday in Asia.

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