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, +0.93% gained 1.1%. Japan’s Nikkei 225 index NIK, +1.41%  jumped 1.5% and the Kospi in South Korea SEU, +0.47% added 0.4%.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng HSI, +0.50% picked up 1.1% to 30,245.00, while Australia’s S&P ASX 200 XJO, -0.03% 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

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