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ASIAN MARKETS SURGE ON US-CHINA TRADE TALKS

Asian market shares and currencies were on an upsurge on Monday as discussions between the United States and China set to continue in Washington this week, with investors hoping for a deal that seeks to end the ongoing trade war.

On Friday, high-level officials from both countries concluded the latest round of discussions which centered on reaching a possible trade agreement before the United States is scheduled to impose additional tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods beginning March 2.

Though no deal was reached on Friday, prospects appeared positive with the two countries reaching a consensus on principle and the United States president softening his earlier hardline stance of concluding talks before the established deadline.

Speaking at the White House lawn, US President Donald Trump hinted at the possibility of a 30 or 60-day extension if the two sides come close to reaching a deal. He described the latest round of discussions as going “extremely well”, adding that a possible deal with China would be “the biggest deal in history”. An official statement, however, gave a more subdued perception saying that more work needs to be done between the two parties.

Optimism towards the continuation of talks in Washington this week was evident among Asian traders on Monday. Japan’s Nikkei index hit its highest share value for the year so far climbing 1.8 percent to 21,281.85 points. Meanwhile, after earlier rising to a high of 6,115.70, Australia’s benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index closed at 6,091.70 by climbing 25 points or 0.42 percent. South Korea’s Kospi, on the other hand, recovered from its sharp decline by closing at 2,210.89. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng climbed 1.65 percent to 28,360.87 points while the Shanghai Composite index increased by 2.68 percent to 2,754.36 in part due to strong credit supply.

Outside Japan, MSCI indexed shares of the broader Asia-Pacific at an increased rate of 1 percent, a clear recovery from its sharp decline last Friday when it fell by 0.8 percent.

Despite collective optimism among investors, analysts put on a more cautious face saying that the recently held talks were too brief to resolve critical issues such as alleged cyber-spying by China and its trade surplus with the US which it offers to turn into a deficit within six years. They added that setbacks between now and the March deadline were not unlikely.

Also notable was the absence of any mention of action in regards to pressure by the US on China to cut back on subsidies meant to further its status in several fields of industry such as robotics and artificial intelligence.

The ongoing trade war is projected to have a detrimental effect on the global economy. The International Monetary Fund warned last year that continuing trade tensions between the US and China could cost the rest of the world around $430 billion in GDP.

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