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Nikkei Markets

Asian stocks advance on optimism over US-China trade talks

Chinese automakers, Samsung Electronics gain

HONG KONG (Nikkei Markets) -- Asian shares outside of Japan ended higher on Tuesday amid reports that U.S. President Donald Trump plans to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping in a bid to end a trade war between the world's two largest economies.

The Nikkei Asia300 Index advanced 0.3% to 1,293.29.

Asian equities received a boost from media reports that said Trump may meet his Chinese counterpart to discuss trade. According to a Bloomberg report, White House adviser Kellyanne Conway remarked on Fox News that Trump wants a trade deal and wants to meet Xi soon. The comments by Conway came in the middle of a visit to Beijing by U.S. officials in an attempt to reach a deal before the March 1 deadline, when U.S. tariffs on Chinese imports will see an increase if no agreement is reached.

Prior to that, Axios had reported on Monday that advisers to the U.S. president had informally discussed holding a summit with the Chinese president at Trump's club in Florida.

The reports of Trump's willingness to meet Xi come in the midst of ongoing talks between officials of the two countries in Beijing. Trump had earlier commented that he had no plans to meet the Chinese president before the March 1 deadline. Beijing and Washington are attempting to reach a deal before March 1, failing which the U.S. is expected to raise tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports to 25% from 10%.

"Markets are anticipating good news," said Hussein Sayed, the chief market strategist at broker FXTM. "However, investors need to manage their expectations especially in light of conflicting messages from President Trump."

The working-level talks are already underway, which will be followed by high-level discussions later in the week, with U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer arriving Thursday.

U.S. equity index futures climbed higher on Tuesday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index, resuming trade after the long weekend, jumped 2.6% on back of the yen falling to near 110.50 to the dollar.

In movers in Asia on Tuesday, Samsung Electronics climbed 2.3% and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. closed 0.9% higher.

Chinese carmakers gained after Geely Automobile Holdings reported a 2% increase in January sales volume to 158,393 units. Shares of Geely closed 4.4% higher, while Great Wall Motor and Guangzhou Automobile Group rose 3.4% and 4.7%, respectively.

Samsung Heavy Industries added 2.9%. Reuters reported that the company had turned down an offer to take over Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering, citing Daewoo Shipbuilding shareholder Korea Development Bank. The report said that KDB now intends to sell Daewoo Shipbuilding to Hyundai Heavy Industries, who last month had announced a share swap deal to take over Daewoo Shipbuilding. Shares of Hyundai Heavy Industries closed 0.8% lower.

Tata Motors slid 0.7% as the Indian carmaker reported a 12% decline in total global wholesale sales, including that of its U.K. unit Jaguar Land Rover.

--Nimesh Vora

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