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Asian markets rise as attention turns to China growth data

Investors are awaiting the release of Chinese growth data and the start of the corporate earnings season
Investors are awaiting the release of Chinese growth data and the start of the corporate earnings season AFP
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Hong Kong (AFP)

Asian markets rose Tuesday after a slow start to the day, as investors brushed off a weak lead from Wall Street while looking ahead for the release of Chinese growth data.

With few catalysts to drive business regional equities at first struggled for traction but picked up as the day wore on, resuming an uptrend that has characterised the year.

Focus turns now to China's growth figures, which come after a number of upbeat readings on the world's number two economy -- including factory activity, inflation, new loans and trade -- that have given some cause for optimism.

High-level talks between China and the United States aimed at ending their long-running trade war are also being closely followed, with most observers optimistic they would reach a deal.

Both sides have sounded positive, and expectations for a deal have been a key driver of a rally in global markets this year and in offsetting worries about the outlook for the world economy.

"The data from both China and the US has been consistently upbeat of late, suggesting things may not get as bad as the doomsayers are proclaiming," said OANDA senior market analyst Jeffrey Halley.

"That said, without sounding like a broken record, a resolution of the US-China trade issues must occur before a more complete picture of what 2019 holds for the global economy can be built."

Traders are also keeping tabs on trade talks between Japan and the United States in Washington.

- 'Air of unpredictability' -

Hong Kong rose 0.9 percent in late trade, while Shanghai ended more than two percent higher boosted by a rise in property prices, while Tokyo was up 0.2 percent.

Sydney gained 0.4 percent, Singapore added 0.2 percent, Seoul rose 0.3 percent and Taipei jumped 0.6 percent.

Wellington, Manila, Mumbai and Jakarta were also well up.

Traders in New York provided a weak lead after Wall Street majors Goldman Sachs and Citigroup disappointed, offsetting a healthy report from peer JP Morgan last week and causing some concern as earnings season kicks into gear.

"Obviously the markets are not expecting too much and a lot of good news are already priced in, so it makes sense for the market to take a pause," Isabelle Mateos y Lago, a strategist at BlackRock, told Bloomberg TV.

Oil prices extended Monday's losses, having enjoyed a surge of more than 30 percent this year, thanks to hopes for the China-US talks, an output cut by OPEC and Russia, sanctions on Iran and Venezuela and brewing unrest in Libya.

And while dealers are selling, analysts expect prices to continue going up.

"Other than an unlikely about-face in OPEC supply discipline or a surprise on Iran sanction wavier, not quite sure what can or will derail oil markets," Stephen Innes, at SPI Asset Management, said.

"But given the air of unpredictability that engulfs President Trump certainly concerns will creep that (he) will knuckle down and force prices lower by increasing Iran waiver limits."

In early trade London's FTSE index rose 0.2 percent, Paris gained 0.1 percent and Frankfurt 0.2 percent.

- Key figures around 0720 GMT -

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 0.2 percent at 22,221.66 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 0.9 percent at 30,065.31

Shanghai - Composite: UP 2.4 percent at 3,253.60 (close)

London - FTSE 100: UP 0.2 percent at 7452.21

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3094 from $1.3093 at 2045 GMT

Euro/pound: DOWN at 86.37 pence from 86.32 pence

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1308 from $1.1302

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 111.92 yen from 112.03 yen

Oil - West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 14 cents at $63.26 per barrel

Oil - Brent Crude: DOWN 28 cents at $70.90 per barrel

New York - Dow: DOWN 0.1 percent at 26,384.77 (close)

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