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Asian markets rise again as investors make most of feel-good vibe

WT24 Desk

HONG KONG – Asian markets rose again Friday as the feel-good factor that fired investors the day before looked set to push into the weekend, fuelled by upbeat data and trade optimism, AFP reports.

A growing sense that Britain could avoid crashing out of the European
Union was adding to the positive vibe and keeping the pound at a more than one-month high against the dollar.

After a tumultuous August, dealers were given a much-needed shot in the
arm this week with news that China and the United States would resume high- level trade talks next month in Washington.

This week also saw China flag plans for fresh economy-boosting measures,
while data out of Washington on Thursday showed August private-sector jobs creation beat the previous month and was higher than expected.

A forecast-topping read on the US services sector provided extra joy.

The reports set the scene for the much-anticipated release of non-farm
payrolls later Friday, which are closely watched for clues about the state of
the world’s top economy.

The reading could also give an idea about the Federal Reserve’s plans for
interest rates this year, with observers expecting it to unveil more cuts
this year. Expectations for an extended run of reductions has lent much-
needed support to markets this year.

However, Kristina Hooper, chief global market strategist at Invesco, said:
“While this has been some positive economic data, it makes it a little more
difficult for the Fed to cut rates.”

Alluding to an upcoming speech on Friday by Fed boss Jerome Powell, she
told Bloomberg TV: “I suspect what we will hear from Powell is a very tepid
commentary on the Fed’s ability to provide monetary policy accommodation.”

The Fed warned this week that uncertainty created by Donald Trump’s trade wars with China and Europe could cut one percent off the US economy through early next year, while companies say investment and hiring decisions are being affected.

– Sterling up as Boris struggles –

In early trade Hong Kong was up 0.9 percent and Shanghai gained 0.2
percent, with Tokyo ending the morning 0.6 percent higher.

Sydney and Seoul were both 0.4 percent higher, Wellington piled on 0.9
percent and Taipei added 0.1 percent. Manila and Jakarta also posted gains.

Observers said markets might be able to calm down as China prepares for a
week-long holiday to mark the 70th anniversary of its founding on October 1.

“This then suggests that a market-friendly environment of no new US-China
trade news over the coming weeks looks likely with focus over the remainder of September set to be centred around major central banks’ policy intentions,” said Rodrigo Catril at National Australia Bank.

Traders are keeping a keen eye on Westminster where Prime Minister Boris
Johnson’s bid to pull Britain out of the European Union on October 31 has
been left in tatters by MPs expected to push through a bill to avoid a no-
deal exit.

The new PM has been dealt a number of blows this week after pro-EU members of his party rebelled, while he has also been unable to muster enough votes to call a general election with the opposition only willing to go to the polls once its bill has been made law.

While the crisis has fuelled fresh uncertainty in the country, the pound
it rising at levels not seen since the end of July, having fallen on Tuesday
to its weakest level since 1985, except for a 2016 “flash crash”.

– Key figures around 0230 GMT –

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 0.6 percent at 21,212.54 (break)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: UP 0.9 percent at 26,744.00

Shanghai – Composite: UP 0.3 percent at 2,995.76

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2323 from $1.2328 at 2040 GMT

Euro/pound: UP at 89.52 pence from 89.51 pence

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1030 from $1.1036

Dollar/yen: UP at 107.01 yen from 106.94 yen

West Texas Intermediate: UP 10 cents at $56.10 per barrel

Brent North Sea crude: UP five cents at $61.00 per barrel

New York – Dow: UP 1.4 percent at 26,728.15 (close)

London – FTSE 100: DOWN 0.6 percent at 7,271.17 (close)

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