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Asia report: Shares lifted on hopes for Covid cure, US-China trade talks

Tue, 25th Aug 2020 07:51

(Sharecast News) - Asian stock markets were mostly higher on Tuesday on hopes of new treatments for Covid-19 and signs of potential progress in trade talks between the US and China.
Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index finished the session 1.35% higher to finish at 23,296.77.

South Korea's Kospi gained 1.6% to 2,368.01, while Australia's S&P/ASX 200 added 0.5% to 6,161.40, lifted by banking stocks.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng edged 0.15% lower to 25,506, while the Shanghai Composite fell 0.36% to 3,373.58.

Sentiment was lifted on reports that US and Chinese officials indicated progress in resolving concerns around the Phase 1 trade deal reached between the two countries in January.

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin spoke with Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He during a "regularly scheduled call", the US Trade department said in a statement on Tuesday.

"The parties addressed steps that China has taken to effectuate structural changes called for by the agreement that will ensure greater protection for intellectual property rights, remove impediments to American companies in the areas of financial services and agriculture, and eliminate forced technology transfer," Lighthizer's office stated.

"Both sides see progress and are committed to taking the steps necessary to ensure the success of the agreement."

China's commerce ministry said in a statement there had been "constructive dialogue".

In Australia, the market gain of 31.8 points was just short of the five-month high close 6167.6 set last week, having hit 6199 during the first hour of trading on the back of a surge in US markets. Banking stocks led the charge, with Commonwealth Bank, Westpac, NAB and ANZ all posting strong gains.

Markets have also been underpinned by work on potential cures to stop the coronavirus pandemic. US regulators on Sunday authorised the use of blood plasma from recovered Covid-19 patients as a treatment option, which lifted US shares overnight.

This also boosted airline shares in late trade. In Hong Kong, China Eastern Airlines took off by 4.67% while China Southern Airlines soared 5.71%. This was mirrored in Japan, where ANA Holdings climbed 7.18% on the day and in Singapore, flag carrier Singapore Airlines also gained 4.08% in afternoon trade.

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