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Asian Equities Rise on Trade Hopes; Brexit in Focus

Stock MarketsDec 12, 2018 09:45PM ET
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© Reuters. - Asian markets rose in morning trade on Thursday following reports that China is considering postponing some targets of its ambitious plans to dominate high-end technologies, as Beijing tried to ease trade tensions with the U.S.

Citing two people familiar with the matter, Bloomberg reported that Beijing may delay the “Made in China 2025” plan by a decade to 2035.

The news came after U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Treasury Undersecretary for International Affairs David Malpass urged China to do more to end the tariff war.

“What you will see, if we do get to a trade agreement with China, is there will be verification procedures, there will be enforcement mechanisms,” Ross said on CNBC television. “We’re talking about some fairly fundamental structural changes that over time will be needed to accomplish at least our end purposes.”

The Shanghai Composite and the SZSE Composite jumped 1.6% and 1.9% respectively by 9:45 PM ET (02:45 GMT). Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index also gained 1.5%.

Meanwhile, Citi said in a report on Tuesday that China will likely speed up its Belt and Road projects amid tension with the U.S.

China will likely "escalate the loan and shorten the project approval" process to quicken the pace of infrastructure building "so as to diversify trade and economic activities there away from the U.S.," Citi analysts said in the report.

"We believe the BRI will primarily benefit the railway sector, given China's distinct advantages globally in terms of technology and cost in railway infrastructure," they said.

Elsewhere, South Korea’s KOSPI edged up 0.6%. Hyundai Motor (KS:005380) said in a statement that it is planning to provide funding worth 1.7 trillion won ($1.5 billion) to stabilise management of its suppliers.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 rose 1.0%, while Australia’s ASX 200 traded 0.4% higher.

In other news, the Brexit sage remained in focus as U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May won a vote of confidence in her leadership of the Conservative Party. May won the leadership challenge by 200 votes to 117 votes against her in the ballot of Conservative members of parliament (MPs).

"The fact remains that the EU is highly unlikely to offer the reassurance MPs are demanding on the Irish backstop," analysts at ING said, adding there was a risk that a parliamentary vote on the Brexit deal will not take place until later in the first quarter of 2019.

"In the meantime, the lack of clarity and elevated risk of 'no deal' is set to see economic activity slow further," they said.

May called off Tuesday’s vote on her Brexit deal so she could go back to Brussels and ask for changes to it. Reports on Tuesday said one of May's spokespeople noted that the House vote on May's Brexit deal could be postponed for up to six weeks.

Questions about May's future arrived as she made little progress convincing lawmakers in Brussels to amend the terms of her Brexit deal, increasing the prospect of another referendum, or an extension of Article 50, which was triggered in March last year, setting into motion Britain's departure from the European Union.

The British pound jumped about 1% on Wednesday following the news. The GBP/USD pair last traded at 1.2618, down 0.1%.

Asian Equities Rise on Trade Hopes; Brexit in Focus

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