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Asia: Markets rise as earnings, trade hopes provide cheer

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[HONG KONG] Asian markets rose on Tuesday, tracking gains on Wall Street with confidence given a boost by a positive earnings season and speculation top US and Chinese negotiators will hold face-to-face trade talks soon.

A bipartisan agreement to raise the US debt ceiling to fund government for another two years - avoiding another painful shutdown - also provided some cheer.

The gains across the board come a week before the Federal Reserve holds its next policy meeting at which it is expected to cut interest rates, with a big question over how deep it will go.

While uncertainty remains over the outlook for the global economy, investors have been cheered by the earnings season so far as a number of reports have come in above forecasts, though analysts point out that expectations had been low.

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Attention is now on the upcoming releases by tech titans including Amazon, Facebook and Google, with Boeing, Caterpillar, American Airlines and Coca-Cola also in line.

"Markets feel poised for some increased volatility," Nick Twidale, director and co-founder of financial technology platform X-Chainge, said in a commentary.

"Traders will be looking to see how much trade issues have affected the bottom line of some of the big players, although news the talks between the two trading superpowers could resume next week should support underlying sentiment," he added.

Tokyo ended the morning session 0.9 per cent higher, while Hong Kong added 0.3 per cent and Shanghai put on 0.2 per cent. Sydney and Singapore each added 0.4 per cent while Seoul gained 0.5 per cent. Wellington, Taipei and Jakarta were also in positive territory.

POUND STRUGGLES 

Hopes for progress in the China-US trade row are brightening with reports saying there is a possibility that high-level talks could take place soon.

Donald Trump held a meeting with the CEOs of some of the US's biggest tech firms Monday to discuss a number of issues including his decision to effectively ban Chinese giant Huawei from trading with any US companies.

The ban is a key bone of contention in the trade stand-off, which has dragged on the global economy since last year.

Oil prices edged up as traders keep tabs on the rumbling Iran crisis after it seized a UK-flagged tanker in the Gulf on Friday. However, while there are concerns about a possible conflict in the region analysts pointed out that the commodity remains weighed down by supply and demand issues.

"While oil prices remain supported by Middle East geopolitical risk, the market's reaction has been muted due to the ascendency of United States shale production, which is tempering supply risk premiums," said Vanguard Markets' Stephen Innes.

The dollar was down against most higher-yielding, riskier units as dealers jockey for positions ahead of the Fed policy meeting.

The pound continues to struggle ahead of the election of a new British prime minister later Tuesday, with arch-Brexiter Boris Johnson widely expected to win, raising concerns he will push for an exit from the EU without an economic plan in place.

AFP