Asia Stocks Boosted by Trade Optimism

Asia Pacific markets traded mostly higher on Friday as investors cheered a report saying American officials may be weighing the possibility of easing tariffs on China, in a bid to push forward trade talks.

The Nikkei 225 recovered 26.38 points, or 1.3%, to 20,666.07. The yen, viewed as a safe-haven asset, traded at 109.44 to the U.S. dollar, weaker than levels near 108.00 earlier in the week.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index heightened 335.18 points, or 1.3%, to 27.090.81

Australian bourses were positive with all sectors rising. The Australian dollar was at $0.7193 U.S., dipping from an earlier high of $0.7205.

CHINA

In Shanghai, the CSI 300 regained 56.75 points, or 1.8%, to 3,186.17

The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin proposed lifting all or some of the tariffs on Chinese imports to give Beijing a reason to make deeper concessions in ongoing trade talks between the two countries.

But U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer resisted the idea, worried that it could be considered a sign of weakness, the Journal added, citing people with knowledge to the matter. A senior administration official told the media that "there’s no discussion of lifting tariffs now."

An official from National Australia Bank questioned if a tariff agreement would be able to turn around China’s slowing economy, but analysts at Eurasia Group said that Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s desire to avoid tariff escalation reduces the probability of talks breaking down within the first half of the year.

In other markets

In Singapore, the Straits Times Index added 9.9 points, or 0.3%, to 3,224.34

In Korea, the Kospi index gained 17.22 points, or 0.8%, to 2,124.28

In Taiwan, the Taiex index picked up 46.91 points, or 0.5%, to 9,836.06

In New Zealand, the NZX 50 moved higher 19.9 points, or 0.2%, to 9,097/71

In Australia, the ASX 200 muscled up 29.54 points, or 0.5%, to 5,879.59