Asian markets rise as Fed leaves itself wiggle room, hopes for trade talks rekindled

Asian markets gained in early trading Thursday, after the U.S. Federal Reserve kept interest rates unchanged but indicated it is ready to make ease monetary policy if needed.

The Fed said it will “closely monitor” the economy given increasing uncertainty about government policy, though it signaled it may not need to lower rates before 2020. But Chairman Jerome Powell indicated that the central bank is prepared to cut interest rates if necessary.

There was also encouraging news on the trade front, as U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said he plans to meet his Chinese counterpart ahead of the G-20 summit next week. “When actual negotiations begin again, I can’t say at this point,” Lighthizer said. “We’re talking. We’re going to meet.” The U.S. and China broke off trade negotiations in early May and have not met since.

Japan’s Nikkei NIK, +0.73%  rose 0.6% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index HSI, +1.01%  gained 0.9%. The Shanghai Composite SHCOMP, +2.58%  surged 2% while the smaller-cap Shenzhen Composite 399106, +2.15%  advanced 1.6%. South Korea’s Kospi 180721, +0.19%  was about flat, while benchmark indexes in Taiwan Y9999, -0.08% , Singapore STI, +0.79%  and Indonesia JAKIDX, -0.07%  were mixed. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 XJO, +0.37%  rose 0.2%.

Among individual stocks, Uniqlo parent Fast Retailing 9983, +1.44%  rose in Tokyo trading, along with Sony 6758, +0.94%  and e-commerce company Rakuten 4755, +2.14% . In Hong Kong, Geely Automobile 175, +4.87% , parent of Volvo Cars, gained after announcing a deal with Sweden’s Zenuity to supply it with self-driving software. China Life Insurance 2628, +3.30%  and Tencent 700, +1.61% also rose. Samsung 005930, +0.11%  inched down in South Korea and Foxconn 2354, +2.42%  advanced in Taiwan. Rio Tinto RIO, -4.03%  sank in Australia, while Beach Energy BPT, +2.45%  gained.

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