Asian stocks follow Wall Street higher after US-China deal

FILE - In this Jan. 10, 2020, file photo specialist Meric Greenbaum, center, works at his post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. The U.S. stock market opens at 9:30 a.m. EST on Thursday, Jan. 16. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

Asian stock markets followed Wall Street higher on Friday after China reported 6.1% economic growth in 2019 and Washington and Beijing signed an interim trade agreement.

Benchmarks in Shanghai, Tokyo, Seoul and Sydney advanced after the U.S. benchmark S&P 500 index hit a new high and Google parent Alphabet passed $1 trillion in market value.

China’s economic growth was the lowest since 1990 but forecasters pointed to improved activity in December. They said Wednesday’s signing of a truce in the war over Beijing’s technology ambitions and trade surplus might help to revive consumer and business confidence.

Investors are “finding inspiration” from the Wall Street rally while they try to figure out “where to from here” in U.S.-Chinese trade relations, said Jingyi Pan of IG in a report.

“The market sentiment looks to have only improved into the end of the week,” said Pan.

The Shanghai Composite Index edged 0.1% higher to 3,076.33 and Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 rose 0.5% to 24,041.26. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was off less than 0.1% at 28,856.03.

Seoul’s Kospi added 0.2% to 2,252.96 Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 gained 0.3% to 7,064.10.

India’s Sensex opened up 22 points at 41,955.11. New Zealand and Taiwan rose while Singapore declined.

On Wall Street, Alphabet became the fourth U.S. company in the $1 trillion club, joining Amazon, Apple and Microsoft.

The S&P 500 climbed 0.8% to 3,316.81 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.9% to 29,297.64. The Nasdaq composite gained 1.1% to 9,357.13.

Chinese economic growth held steady in the three months ending in December at the previous quarter’s rate of 6% over a year earlier.

Monthly activity indicators showed “industry and investment improved sharply in December,” William Adams of PNC Financial Services Group said in a report.

Forecasters said the U.S.-Chinese trade deal might help to revive economic growth by reassuring companies and consumers that relations wouldn’t deteriorate further. Washington postponed planned tariff hikes on additional Chinese goods and Beijing promised to buy more American farm exports.

If the public believes the truce is genuine, “improved sentiment could also boost economic growth in the near-term,” said Adams.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude gained 3 cents to $58.55 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 71 cents to $58.52 on Thursday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, also rose 3 cents, to $64.65 per barrel in London. It rose 62 cents the previous session to $64.62.

CURRENCY: The dollar advanced to 110.22 yen from Thursday’s 110.13 yen. The euro edged up to $1.1139 from $1.1136.

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