Asia stocks follow Wall Street higher amid trade optimism

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Currency traders watch monitors at the foreign exchange dealing room of the KEB Hana Bank headquarters in Seoul, South Korea, Friday, Dec. 27, 2019.

BEIJING — Asian stocks followed Wall Street higher on Friday amid optimism U.S.-Chinese trade relations are improving.

Hong Kong’s benchmark rose 1.2% while Shanghai and Hong Kong also rose and Tokyo was unchanged.

Investors welcomed President Donald Trump’s comment that an interim “Phase 1” trade deal was “getting done.” Trump said he and Chinese President Xi Jinping would hold a signing ceremony.

Markets have been encouraged by positive comments about the agreement, though details have yet to be released.

Chinese customs data this week showed November soybean imports rose in a possible boost to American farmers. Midwestern farm states were battered by Beijing’s earlier suspension of purchases of U.S. soybeans, the biggest Chinese import from the United States, in response to Trump’s tariff hikes in a fight over China’s technology ambitions and trade surplus.

“Broadly risk sentiment is positive,” Mizuho Bank said in a report.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose to 28,193.40 and the Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.8% to 3,032.81. Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 was off 16 points at 23,908.33.

Seoul’s Kospi gained 0.3% to 2,204.03 and Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 added 0.4% to 6,820.10.

India’s Sensex opened 0.7% higher at 41,439.43. Benchmarks in Taiwan and Singapore advanced while New Zealand declined.

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 index and Dow Jones Industrial Average reached new highs Thursday.

The S&P 500 rose 0.5% to 3,239.91 and the Dow gained 0.4% to 28,621.39. The Nasdaq composite climbed 0.8% to 9,022.39.

Investors welcomed a report by Mastercard SpendingPulse that showed U.S. online Christmas shopping rose 18.8% over a year earlier.

Despite optimism about a U.S.-Chinese trade truce, traders still are concerned about bigger unresolved disputes.

The coming year also has the added complication of the U.S. presidential election.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude gained 16 cents to $61.84 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract added 57 cents on Thursday to close at $61.88. Brent crude, used to price international oils, advanced 11 cents to $66.87 per barrel in London. It rose 60 cents the previous session to $66.76.

CURRENCY: The dollar weakened to 109.48 yen from Thursday’s 109.57 yen. The euro gained to $1.1121 from $1.1100.

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