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Asia: Markets on course to end week with rally

[HONG KONG] Asian markets rose on Friday putting them on course to end a shaky week on a positive note as investors look ahead to crucial trade talks between China and the United States at the end of the month.

Small signs of a break in the impasse on Capitol Hill also provided some hope, with Democrats and Republicans meeting to end the month-long government shutdown that is taking its toll on the economy and left hundreds of thousands of workers unpaid.

Wall Street provided a mixed lead, though the technology sector was supported by strong earnings from US semiconductor firms such as Texas Instruments, while energy firms tracked healthy gains in oil prices.

There are hopes that next week's meeting in Washington between top Chinese and US officials will see some progress, but Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross looked to temper expectations Thursday by saying the two sides are "miles and miles" from resolving their trade war.

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However, he still offered some hope, saying: "I believe China would like to make a deal. I believe we would like to make a deal but it has to be a deal that works for both parties.

"I'm trying to say people shouldn't think the events of next week will be the solution to all of the issues between the United States and China."

Edward Moya, a market analyst at Oanda, pointed out that US markets were niggled by the "miles away" comment, but said that "many failed to focus on the rest of his comments that there is a fair chance a deal will get done, just not this week".

'WE'RE TALKING, WE'RE TALKING' 

In morning trade Hong Kong rose more than one per cent and Shanghai added 0.6 per cent while Tokyo went into the break one per cent higher.

Sydney jumped 0.8 per cent, Singapore gained 0.5 per cent and Seoul was 0.7 per cent higher. Taipei was nearly one per cent up, while Manila, Wellington and Jakarta were also well up.

The gains put the region on course for a positive end to a week that started on a dour note as China reported its economy was growing at its slowest pace in 28 years.

In Washington two bills to end the shutdown were thrown out by the senate but the president signalled he could back a "reasonable" proposal that includes border security. However, Democrats reasserted they will not provide cash for a Mexican border wall.

Both parties leaders in the Senate met Thursday to discuss the issue, with Mr Schumer later seen smiling and saying: "We're talking, we're talking".

Oanda's Moya said that with Donald Trump fighting the trade war as well as the US shutdown he would need to make some headway on one some time soon.

"The president needs a win, and he will need to decide soon whether he will move forward in resolving the shutdown or the trade war with China," he said. "If he leaves both at their current states, he will see all the stock market gains and confidence in the economy evaporate."

Oil prices rallied more than one per cent as instability in Venezuela fuelled concerns about supplies from the major producer, with Mr Trump weighing sanctions on Nicolas Maduro's regime and backing opposition leader Juan Guaido as the country's interim president.

"It's a function of people keeping an eye on supply concerns out of Venezuela," Marshall Steeves, an energy markets analyst at Informa Economics, told Bloomberg News. "That's the overriding issue today."

AFP