Asian Shares Advance As Trade Tensions Ease

Asian stocks rose on Monday after weak U.S. jobs data fueled interest rate cut hopes and the Trump administration announced it would drop plans for tariffs on Mexico in return for more stringent efforts to control illegal border crossings.

Chinese shares rose to snap a six-session losing streak as mixed trade data boosted stimulus hopes. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index climbed 24.33 points or 0.9 percent to 2,852.13, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index surged up 613.36 points or 2.3 percent to 27,578.64.

China’s exports grew 1.1 percent last month after falling 2.7 percent in April, according to customs data. Analysts had expected a 3.8 percent decline. Meanwhile, imports plummeted 8.5 percent after surging up 4.0 percent in April due to softening external conditions.

Japanese markets ended near two-week highs as safe havens such as the Japanese yen retreated on improved risk sentiment. The Nikkei 225 Index rallied 249.71 points or 1.2 percent to 21,134.42, while the broader Topix closed 1.3 percent higher at 1,552.94.

Nissan, which makes the most vehicles in Mexico among Japanese automakers, gained 0.8 percent. Honda Motor advanced 1.5 percent, Toyota Motor added 1.8 percent and Mazda Motor surged 1.1 percent.

However, shares of telecom operators fell on reports the government plans to cap the fee for canceling a two-year cell phone contract at 1,000 yen. NTT Docomo dropped 1 percent and KDDI Corp shed 1.6 percent.

In economic news, Japan’s GDP grew a seasonally adjusted 0.6 percent sequentially in the first three months of 2019, the Cabinet Office said. That’s an upward revision from 0.5 percent in last month’s preliminary reading.

On an annualized basis, GDP was up 2.2 percent – matching forecasts and up from 2.1 percent in the preliminary reading.

Japan had a current account surplus of 1,707.4 billion yen in April, another report showed, down 9.5 percent from last year. The trade balance fell to a 98.2 billion yen deficit versus expectations for a surplus of 5.0 billion yen.

Seoul stocks rallied to extend gains for the third consecutive session, with underlying sentiment underpinned by easing friction between the U.S. and Mexico as well as hopes for Federal Reserve interest rate cuts.

The benchmark Kospi jumped 27.16 points or 1.3 percent to 2,099.49, led by technology companies and automakers.

Hyundai Motor climbed 2.1 percent, while its affiliate Kia Motors jumped 4.5 percent. The automakers operate plants in Mexico for shipment to the North American market.

The Australian markets were closed in observance of the Queen’s birthday.

New Zealand shares edged lower in subdued trading after data showed Chinese imports fell the most in nearly three years in a further sign of weak domestic demand. The benchmark S&P/NZX 50 Index ended down 20.21 points or 0.2 percent at 10,027.61, snapping three straight sessions of gains.

U.S. stocks rose sharply on Friday to extend gains for the fourth day as tepid jobs data added to expectations that the Federal Reserve could cut interest rates as soon as July.

U.S. non-farm payroll employment rose by 75,000 jobs in May, falling short of the 185,000 expected by analysts.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 1 percent to hit its highest level in a month, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite surged up 1.7 percent and the S&P 500 added 1.1 percent.

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