Asia stocks rise amid increased trade optimism; China’s trade data ahead


Asia shares rose on Tuesday as investors await China’s trade data ahead of a long-anticipated phase one deal signing with the U.S. this week. Optimism also rose as the U.S. removed China from a list of currency manipulators.Japan’s Nikkei 225 bounced 0.74% in early trade, as it returned from a holiday on Monday. The Topix index was up 0.28%. Tech names jumped, with Softbank up 2.38%. Over in South Korea, the Kospi  rose 0.73%. Tech stocks also gained, with Samsung Electronics jumping 1%, SK Hynix surging 2.49%, and LG Electronics up 3.60%. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 jumped 0.73%. Major miners gained, with Fortescue Metals up 1.48%, Bhp Group rising 1.19%, and Rio Tinto up 0.79%. China is set to release its exports and imports data for December on Tuesday. Those numbers will be closely watched ahead of the imminent signing of the long-awaited phase one trade deal with the U.S. on Wednesday in Washington.Last month, the country reported that exports in November shrank for the fourth consecutive month, underscoring pressures on manufacturing from the long-running Sino-U.S. trade war. The signing of the phase one deal, however, is expected to involve some rollback of tariffs.Ahead of the signing, the U.S. removed China from the currency manipulator list on Monday — more than five months after the U.S. Treasury put the country on it, saying that Beijing has been keeping the yuan artificially weaker.Even before it was removed from the list, the yuan had been appreciating and jumped to a five-month high last week.On Monday, the Chinese currency strengthened further to the level below 6.90 — which was the strongest level to the dollar since Aug. 1. The offshore yuan was at 6.8799, from last week’s high of 6.9775. The onshore yuan was last at 6.8924, as compared to a high of 6.9786 last week.U.S. markets notched record highs again amid the increased optimism.The S&P 500 gained 0.7% to close at 3,288.13, hitting a record high. The Nasdaq Composite also notched an all-time high, advancing 1% to 9,273.93 as Tesla shares surged. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 83.28 points, or 0.3% to 28,907.05.CurrenciesThe U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was last at 97.373, falling back from a high of 97.530 earlier.The safe-haven Japanese yen traded at 109.92 versus the greenback, weakening from last week. The Australian dollar was little changed at around $0.6900.What’s on tap for Tuesday (all times in HK/SIN):8:00 a.m.: Japan’s bank lending11:00 a.m.: China’s exports and imports data, trade balance for December5:00 p.m.: China’s new loans, loan growth, total social financing

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