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Sunday May 19th, 2019 11:21PM

Asian stocks follow Wall Street higher

By The Associated Press
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BEIJING (AP) — Asian stocks followed Wall Street higher Wednesday after President Donald Trump downplayed his escalating tariff war with Beijing and said a settlement is possible.

Benchmarks in Shanghai, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Sydney advanced as investors mulled the likely costs of U.S. and Chinese tariff hikes on hundreds of billions of dollars of each other's goods.

Trump said on Twitter the conflict over Beijing's technology ambitions and trade surplus was a "little squabble" between friends. He said, "When the time is right we will make a deal with China."

Global equities rallied on that "positive tone," said Edward Moya of OANDA in a report.

Despite no sign of a deal or even a date for more talks, "no escalation in tensions was good enough of a reason for investors to return to buying stocks," said Moya.

The Shanghai Composite Index rose 1.1% to 2,915.28 and Tokyo's Nikkei 225 added 0.2% to 21,118.72.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng advanced 0.7% to 28,326.32 and Seoul's Kospi rose 0.6% to 2,094.09. Sydney's S&P-ASX 200 was 0.8% higher at 6,289.00 while India's Sensex gained 0.6% to 37,522.72.

Markets in Taiwan, New Zealand and Thailand also advanced. Singapore and Indonesia retreated.

Trump threw financial markets into turmoil with his surprise May 5 announcement of plans to raise tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese imports to 25% from 10%. When that went ahead Friday, Beijing retaliated by raising duties on $60 billion of American goods.

Investors worry that in addition to depressing trade, the fight sparked by U.S. complaints about China's technology ambitions might hurt consumer and business confidence, depressing spending and investment.

On Wall Street, tech stocks led the way higher Tuesday after suffering a beating the previous day. Qualcomm and Cisco both rose, along with Oracle, Adobe and others. Banks also rose. JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and others moved higher.

The benchmark Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 0.8% to 2,834.41. It recovered nearly a third of Monday's loss and would now need to rise 3.9% to regain the record it set a couple weeks ago.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.8% to 25,532.05 and the Nasdaq composite index jumped 1.1% to 7,734.49.

CHINA ECONOMY: China's April factory output and consumer spending weakened as a tariff war with Washington intensified. The data prompted suggestions Beijing will need to prop up economic growth with more government spending. Growth in factory output decelerated to 5.4% over a year earlier from March's 8.5% growth. Growth in retail sales declined to 7.2% over a year ago from the previous month's 8.7%.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude lost 47 cents to $61.31 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 74 cents on Tuesday to close at $61.78. Brent crude, used to price international oils, shed 30 cents per barrel in London to $70.94. It jumped $1.01 the previous session to $71.24.

CURRENCY: The dollar edged up to 109.63 yen from Tuesday's 109.61 yen. The euro rose to $1.1209 from $1.1208.

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