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=ASIA MARKETS: Asian Stocks Advance On Hopes US, China Nearing Trade Deal

HONG KONG (Apr 15) -- Asian shares outside of Japan edged higher on Monday, buoyed by the U.S Treasury Secretary’s comments that suggested a U.S.-China trade deal was imminent.

The Nikkei Asia300 Index of companies outside Japan rose about 0.1% to 1,364.44.

Asian equities began the week on a positive note, boosted by Wall Street posting its third weekly advance on the back of upbeat earnings on Friday and comments over the weekend by the U.S. Treasury Secretary. The S&P 500 advanced 0.7% to take its year-to-date rally to 16%, while Steven Mnuchin reportedly said on Saturday that trade talks with China were nearing conclusion. In addition to Mnuchin’s comments, a report by Reuters that U.S. negotiators had tempered demands for China to curb industrial subsidies contributed to optimism that a trade deal was near.

On Friday, growth outlook had received a fillip in the form of China’s trade data, which revealed a jump in exports. That followed better than expected U.S. manufacturing data and an upbeat U.S. jobs report.

“U.S. and China have been actively keeping alive hopes that a trade deal is within reach. This coupled with better-than-expected China data in March led the Shanghai Composite Index to its highest level since March 2018,” DBS said in a note. “Risk appetite is likely to hold up unless China’s GDP report on April 17 surprises on the downside.”

Economists expect China’s gross domestic product to have grown by 6.3% in the March quarter.

Heavyweight Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing added 1.4% on Monday. Tencent Holdings dropped 1.4% and Samsung Electronics closed 0.4% higher.

Among Chinese property developers, China Vanke rose 0.1% and China Overseas Land & Investment slipped 0.2%.

India's top two software exporters Infosys and Tata Consultancy Services beat expectations of profit growth for the March quarter, helped by corporate spending on new digital technologies. However, Infosys disappointed with its sales forecast for the current year. Shares of TCS closed 4.8% higher, while that of Infosys fell 2.8%.

Universal Robina fell 3.6% despite the Philippine food and beverage company reporting a 15% increases in net income for 2018.

- By Nimesh Vora;; +852 3960 5150
- Edited by Vipin Nair
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