HONG KONG: Asian markets rose Tuesday (Apr 16) 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 per cent in late trade, while Shanghai ended more than two per cent higher boosted by a rise in property prices, while Tokyo was up 0.2 per cent.
Sydney gained 0.4 per cent, Singapore added 0.2 per cent, Seoul rose 0.3 per cent and Taipei jumped 0.6 per cent.
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 per cent 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 per cent, Paris gained 0.1 per cent and Frankfurt 0.2 per cent.
KEY FIGURES AROUND 0720 GMT
Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 0.2 per cent at 22,221.66 (close)
Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 0.9 per cent at 30,065.31
Shanghai - Composite: UP 2.4 per cent at 3,253.60 (close)
London - FTSE 100: UP 0.2 per cent at 7452.21
Pound/dollar: UP at US$1.3094 from US$1.3093 at 2045 GMT
Euro/pound: DOWN at 86.37 pence from 86.32 pence
Euro/dollar: UP at US$1.1308 from US$1.1302
Dollar/yen: DOWN at 111.92 yen from 112.03 yen
Oil - West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 14 cents at US$63.26 per barrel
Oil - Brent Crude: DOWN 28 cents at US$70.90 per barrel
New York - Dow: DOWN 0.1 per cent at 26,384.77 (close)