February 12, 2019: Asian shares were mostly up Tuesday as investors watched key US-China trade talks aimed at averting punitive tariffs which could slow the global economy, and a weak yen boosted exporters.
Markets were also lifted by a tentative deal to avert a new government shutdown.
Initial trade talks are under way in Beijing, and top-level negotiations are set for Thursday and Friday, as the deadline looms for a deal to prevent a sharp rise in US duties on billions of dollars’ worth of Chinese goods.
“Officials on both sides of the US-China trade talks expressed satisfaction with the progress thus far,” wrote Jeffrey Halley, senior analyst at Oanda, in a commentary.
Failure to agree a deal between the two economic superpowers before March would see tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports more than double.
Washington is demanding far-reaching changes from Beijing on what it says are unfair commercial practices, including theft of intellectual property and barriers to foreign firms in Chinese markets.
While Hong Kong edged down 0.1 percent, Shanghai gained 0.3 percent and Tokyo — returning from Monday's public holiday — rose 2.0 percent.
Japanese exporters benefited as a resurgent dollar left the yen at its weakest level in six weeks.
The dollar has returned to early January levels on the US currency's longest unbroken rally in two years, as concern builds over poor growth forecasts in Europe and elsewhere.
Several central banks have fallen in line with the Fed's dovish stance since it held interest rates unchanged two weeks ago.
Tokyo-listed exporters such as Toyota, Nissan, Honda, and Panasonic all saw gains.
Sydney rose 0.4 percent, Taipei added 0.7 percent and Seoul 0.5 percent.
Meanwhile US senators announced that an agreement in principle had been reached to avoid a new government shutdown at the end of the week.
Lawmakers had warned in recent days of a budget impasse in talks dominated by US President Donald Trump's demand for funds to build a Mexico border wall.
But Senator Richard Shelby, a key Republican negotiator, said a deal had been reached late Monday.
Elsewhere, the British pound clawed back some losses after dropping on dismal monthly GDP and manufacturing data.