Asia Markets: Asian markets race to gains on renewed trade-deal hopes

Asian markets were broadly higher Monday on signs that the U.S. and China were closing in on a trade deal after months of negotiations.

The Shanghai Composite index

SHCOMP, -0.34%

gained 1.1%. Japan’s Nikkei 225 index

NIK, +1.37%

 jumped 1.5% and the Kospi in South Korea

SEU, +0.42%

added 0.4%.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng

HSI, -0.33%

picked up 1.1% to 30,245.00, while Australia’s S&P ASX 200

XJO, +0.00%

lost 0.1%. Stocks rose in Taiwan, Singapore and Indonesia but fell in the Philippines.

On Saturday, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters that the U.S. and China were moving closer to an agreement on trade.

Speaking on the sidelines of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank spring meetings, Mnuchin said the U.S. and China had held phone discussions last week and he wasn’t sure if more face-to-face meetings would be needed. He did not give a timeframe for when negotiations might be wrapped up, but his comments fueled hopes that a wide-ranging dispute between the world’s two biggest economies could soon be put to rest.

On Sunday, Reuters reported that the U.S. was watering down demands that China cut down on industrial subsidies as a condition for a trade deal, after encountering strong Chinese opposition. On Saturday, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said the U.S. was open to facing repercussions if it doesn’t live up to terms of the trade deal, Bloomberg News reported, and said talks are “getting close to the final round of concluding issues.”

“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 Group Research strategists Philip Wee and Joanne Goh said in a commentary.

Among individual stocks, SoftBank Group

9984, +3.05%

  jumped in Tokyo trading, and Nintendo

7974, +1.87%

  and oil producer Inpex

1605, +2.62%

  also gained. In Hong Kong, real estate companies such as China Resources Land

1109, -0.43%

  and Country Garden

2007, +0.61%

 rose. Asiana Airlines

020560, +30.00%

  surged in South Korea after reports that its parent company had agreed to sell a stake in the airline. Beach Energy

BPT, +1.90%

  and Oil Search

OSH, +1.13%

  advanced in Australia.

Last week, China reported that its exports in March rose 14.2% from a year earlier. This was a turnaround from a 20.8% contraction in February, signaling stronger global demand. Sales to the American market also accelerated despite President Donald Trump’s tariffs of up to 25% on $250 billion of Chinese goods.

On Wall Street, strong gains by banks on Friday led the broad S&P 500 index

SPX, +0.66%

  to its third straight weekly gain. It finished 0.7% higher at 2,907.41.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average

DJIA, +1.03%

  rebounded 1% to 26,412.30 and the Nasdaq composite

COMP, +0.46%

  advanced 0.5%, to 7,984.16.

Benchmark U.S. crude

CLK9, -0.41%

  shed 33 cents to $63.56 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained 31 cents to close at $63.89 on Friday. Brent crude

LCOM9, -0.27%

 , used to price international oils, lost 21 cents to $71.34 per barrel in London. It added 72 cents in the previous session to $71.55.

The dollar

USDJPY, -0.03%

  weakened to 111.94 yen from 112.01 yen late Friday.

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