Asian Shares Advance Amid Hopes for U.S.-China Trade Deal

A currency trader stands near the screens showing the Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI), left, and the foreign exchange rate between the U.S. dollar and South Korean won at the foreign exchange dealing room in Seoul, South Korea, Monday. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

Asian shares were mostly higher Monday amid some optimism that the U.S. and China may edging closer to a trade deal.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 surged 0.8% to 23,292.81, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 added 0.3% to 6,731.40. South Korea’s Kospi gained 1.0% to 2,123.50. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng jumped 1.6% to 27,035.20, while the Shanghai Composite advanced 0.6% to 2,903.44.

Shares fell in Taiwan but rose in Singapore and Bangkok. India’s Sensex climbed 0.9% to 40,724.83.

Investors were watching the situation in Hong Kong, where pro-democracy candidates won a majority of seats in a local district council election Sunday. After nearly six months of often violent protests, it is yet another challenge for Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s government.

“The result might not be market-friendly as it sets to challenge Carrie Lam’s leadership and bring up political uncertainties. But it could also mark a turning point in stopping the violent clashes,” said Margaret Yang, market analyst at CMC Markets in Singapore.

Markets around the world churned last week on uncertainty about whether the U.S. and China can soon halt their trade dispute, or at least stop it from escalating.

Tariffs already put in place have hurt manufacturing around the world, and businesses have held back on spending given all the uncertainty about where the rules of global trade will end up.

New U.S. tariffs are set to hit Dec. 15 on many Chinese-made items, including electronics and computers.

A document issued Sunday called for China to “effectively curb” violations of intellectual property rights such as trademarks and copyrights.

The guidelines ordered improvements to laws for protecting such intellectual property, increased compensation for infringements and stricter enforcement of existing laws.

Theft and forced transfers of technology and inadequate protection of copyrights, patents and trademarks are perennial complaints of foreign companies operating in China and are among the key issues in the latest flare-up in trade tensions.

President Donald Trump said last week that a deal between the world’s largest economies is “potentially very close” after Chinese President Xi Jinping said Beijing is working to “try not to have a trade war,” but will nevertheless fight back if necessary.

“A positive start to the trading week is expected with the trade comments from President Donald Trump last week, though investors remain contemplating the U.S.-China trade issue that may not make concrete headway by year-end,” said Jingyi Pan, market strategist at IG.

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 rose 0.2% on Friday, to 3,110.29. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.4% to 27,875.62. The Nasdaq composite added 0.2% to 8,519.88.

Traders favored smaller company stocks, giving the Russell 2000 index a gain of 0.3%, to 1,588.94.

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