Asian shares rise as fears ease over trade dispute, Koreas

Most Asian stock markets rose on Thursday, as fears of a U.S.-China trade dispute eased and news of a rare summit between the leaders of North Korea and South Korea shored up investor sentiment. Trading in some markets was muted ahead of the Easter long weekend.

KEEPING SCORE: The Shanghai Composite in mainland China led Asian gains, jumping 1.4 percent to 3,166.09. Japan’s Nikkei 225 rose 0.6 percent to 21,159.08 after a sharp drop in the yen made shares cheaper for foreign buyers. South Korea’s Kospi added 0.8 percent to 2,438.55 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index reversed earlier losses to rise 0.4 percent to 30,147.32. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 lost 0.5 percent to 5,759.40. Shares rose in Singapore and Thailand but fell in Thailand and Indonesia.

TRADE TENSIONS: Beijing again sought to head off a trade war with the U.S., urging Washington to abandon plans to impose tariffs that it warned could trigger a chain reaction disrupting global trade. Commerce Ministry spokesman Gao Feng vowed that China will “fight to the end” to defend its interests, in response to President Donald Trump’s plans to hike tariffs on $60 billion in Chinese goods in a dispute over technology policy. Gao repeated earlier statements that China is open to talks, but wouldn’t confirm reports they’ve already started.

MARKET TAKE: “Our view remains that China and the U.S. will reach a negotiated solution both in terms of trade and investment restrictions such that the tariffs and restrictions will ultimately be very modest, if at all,” said Shane Oliver, head of investment strategy at AMP Capital. “But this could take a month or more to resolve and so market nervousness around this issue will linger for a while.

KOREAS SUMMIT: Officials said North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in will meet on April 27, a sign of progress to calm investor worries in the standoff over the North’s nuclear program. The announcement follows a meeting earlier this week between Kim and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing. A summit between Kim and President Donald Trump is also anticipated by the end of May though nothing has been confirmed.

WALL STREET: The benchmark S&P 500 index dipped 0.3 percent to close at 2,605. The Dow Jones industrial average fell less than 0.1 percent to 23,848.42. The Nasdaq composite slid 0.8 percent to 6,949.23.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude rose 32 cents to $64.69 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract lost 87 cents, or 1.3 percent, to settle at $64.38 per barrel on Wednesday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, rose 21 cents to $68.97 per barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar eased after making a big jump against the yen to its highest level in three weeks. It was trading at 106.63 yen from 106.84 yen late Wednesday. The euro rose to $1.2321 from $1.2308.