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Asia-Pacific Business Asian stocks rise on hopes for U.S.-China trade, European monetary stimulus

A woman walks by an electronic stock board of a securities firm in Tokyo.

The Associated Press

Asian stocks rose on Thursday on hopes for a thaw in U.S.-China trade frictions and expectations that the European Central Bank will kick off another wave of monetary easing by global central banks.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 0.2 per cent and Japan’s Nikkei stock index rose 1 per cent. Australian shares were up 0.41 per cent.

U.S. stock futures jumped and safe-havens such as the yen and gold fell after U.S. President Donald Trump agreed to delay an additional increase in tariffs on Chinese goods by two weeks at the request of China’s Vice Premier Liu He “as a gesture of good will.”

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Oil prices rose in Asia, rebounding from a tumble on Wednesday, on hopes OPEC members will cut output to support prices.

Any easing of concerns about the bruising trade war is likely to help equities extend their rally this month after a tumultuous August.

Investors also await an ECB meeting later on Thursday to see how far policymakers will go to support a flagging economy, given the risks posed by Britain’s divorce from the European Union, commonly referred to as Brexit.

“Trump’s comments are likely to put a little juice in the market, but it could be gone tomorrow,” said Hugh Dive, chief investment officer at Atlas Funds Management in Sydney.

“Some in the market react to small changes in negotiating positions because Trump is negotiating in the open. I’m more concerned about Brexit, because there is some complacency in the EU about this.”

U.S. stock futures rose 0.57 per cent in Asia on Thursday after the S&P 500 ended 0.72 per cent higher in New York on Wednesday.

The dollar briefly rose to a six-week high of 108.04 yen before paring gains slightly to trade up 0.12 per cent at 107.36 yen.

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Spot gold fell 0.23 per cent to US$1492.80 per ounce.

Trump’s delay of additional tariffs on Chinese goods comes one day after China said it would exempt 16 types of U.S. products from import tariffs.

The world’s two largest economies have been locked in a year-long battle over Beijing’s trade practices that has threatened to push other economies into recession.

The gestures of goodwill raise hopes both sides can narrow their differences before working-level resume talks in mid-September and high-level trade negotiations that are expected in October.

The euro held steady at US$1.1013 but traded near a one-week low. The ECB is set to unveil fresh stimulus measures on Thursday but its exact moves are far from certain.

Germany is at risk of falling into recession and inflation expectations sliding, but ECB President Mario Draghi, who hands over the leadership of the central bank to Christine Lagarde at the end of October, will face resistance to aggressive easing from more conservative ECB members.

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U.S. crude ticked up 0.77 per cent to US$56.18 in Asia on Thursday. Futures tumbled more than 2 per cent on Wednesday following a report that Trump is considering easing sanctions on Iran, which could potentially boost oil supplies.

Asian traders were likely focused on OPEC’s decision on Wednesday to cut its forecast for global oil demand in 2020. OPEC also said all producers have a shared responsibility to support the oil market.

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