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Asian stocks rise after listless Wall Street day

BEIJING - Asian stocks rose Tuesday following a listless day on Wall Street as investors looked ahead to U.S.-Chinese trade talks.

KEEPING SCORE: Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 rose 2 per cent to 20,745.28 and the Shanghai Composite Exchange added 0.3 per cent to 2,661.89. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was 1.5 points higher at 28,122.41 and Seoul’s Kospi gained 0.3 per cent to 2,188.32. Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 advanced 0.2 per cent to 6,073.60 and New Zealand, Taiwan and Malaysia also rose. Manila and Jakarta declined.

WALL STREET: Gains for industrial companies, banks and energy stocks outweighed losses elsewhere. Small-company stocks fared better as investors shifted focus away from the tail end of a strong corporate earnings season to U.S.-Chinese trade talks. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.2 per cent to 25,053.11. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 0.1 per cent to 2,709.80. The Nasdaq composite added 0.1 per cent to 7,307.90.

U.S.-CHINA TALKS: Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin leads a delegation to Beijing on Thursday for talks aimed at resolving a tariff war over American complaints about Chinese technology ambitions. The dispute threatens to chill global economic growth. The talks are the last scheduled high-level meeting before an agreement by both sides to suspend further punitive action against each other’s goods expires March 1.

ANALYST’S TAKE: “U.S. equities struggled to establish clear direction as concerns about progress of trade talk and U.S. government shutdown looms in the background,” said Zhu Huani of Mizuho Bank in a report. “Investor sentiment remains cautious despite report suggesting that President Trump’s advisers are discussing a potential summit with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping next month.”

GLOBAL ECONOMY: Fears of a global slowdown were given additional fuel from a report showing Britain’s economy had its slowest economic growth since the aftermath of the global financial crisis. Both Europe overall and China are contending with slower growth.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude gained 40 cents to $52.81 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract lost 31 cents on Monday to close at $52.41. Brent crude, used to price international oils, rose 49 cents in London to $62.00. It shed 59 cents the previous session to $61.51.

CURRENCY: The dollar gained to 110.47 yen from Monday’s 110.36 yen. The euro edged up to $1.1283 from $1.1279.
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