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Asia: Stocks up as trade concerns ease; US dollar flat

[SYDNEY] Asian stocks climbed after signs that trade tensions are easing boosted US equities, while the US dollar steadied and Treasury yields pared gains. Singapore's dollar rose following a tightening in monetary policy.

Equities in Japan and Australia advanced though US stock futures showed declines. The S&P 500 Index closed higher as President Donald Trump said he's considering rejoining the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade deal he pulled out of shortly after taking office.

Crude extended this week's gain as investors assessed the likelihood of a US military retaliation in Syria. Singapore's dollar climbed as the Monetary Authority of Singapore changed its stance for the first time in two years amid solid economic growth prospects for 2018.

Trade tensions between the US and China that have gripped traders' attention in recent weeks were also defused as Mr Trump said that the two countries may not end up levying new tariffs on each other following conciliatory remarks on Tuesday by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

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Focus has now turned to US earnings season, with financial firms posting some of the biggest gains Thursday after BlackRock Inc's first-quarter results topped estimates. JPMorgan Chase & Co and Citigroup Inc are scheduled to release theirs on Friday.

Elsewhere, government bonds of most euro-region countries rose after minutes of the latest policy meeting of the European Central Bank struck a dovish tone. The Hong Kong Monetary Authority bought the local currency for the first time since the current trading band was imposed in 2005, after the exchange rate sank to the weak end of its permitted range.

STOCKS

Japan's Topix index climbed 0.6 per cent as of 9.03am in Tokyo.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index gained 0.2 per cent.

Futures on Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index advanced one per cent.

The S&P 500 climbed 0.8 per cent.

CURRENCIES

The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index increased 0.1 per cent, the first advance in a week.

The euro held at US$1.2326.

The British pound was at US$1.4232 after rising 0.4 per cent.

The Japanese yen was little changed after dropping 0.5 per cent to 107.31 per US dollar.

USD/SGD drops as much as 0.3 per cent to 1.3083.

BONDS

The yield on 10-year Treasuries increased about five basis points to 2.84 per cent.

COMMODITIES

West Texas Intermediate crude rose 0.4 per cent to US$67.07 a barrel.

Gold was at US$1,335.48 an ounce after sinking 1.4 per cent.

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