Asia shares mostly higher on upbeat talk on China-US trade


BANGKOK (AP) — World stocks have turned higher ahead of U.S. jobs figures and after U.S. President Donald Trump said talks to ease a trade war with China were making progress.

Britain’s FTSE 100 edged 0.2% higher to 7,413 after Prime Minister Theresa May requested a further Brexit extension from the European Union until June 30 to give the U.K. breathing room since it is now scheduled to leave the bloc in just one week.

European Council President Donald Tusk proposed a longer time frame, urging the 27 other EU nations to offer the U.K. a flexible extension of up to a year to make sure the nation doesn’t crash out of the bloc in a chaotic and costly way.

The CAC 40 in France gained 0.3% to 5,479 while Germany’s DAX was flat at 11,987.

Wall Street looked set for gains, with the future contracts for the Dow Jones Industrial Average and for the S&P 500 both climbing 0.1%.

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Investor sentiment seems bolstered by Trump’s statement Thursday that the U.S. and China were “rounding the turn” in the talks, which resumed Wednesday in Washington.

No details were announced but Trump said after meeting with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He that “something monumental” could be announced within weeks.

Liu, China’s top trade negotiator, told Trump that “because of your direct involvement, we do have great progress.”

The dispute over technology policy, involving punitive tariffs imposed by both sides, has rattled markets and cast a pall over the outlook for the global economy.

Investors are also looking ahead to the U.S. jobs report, with economists forecasting a bounce-back in hiring in March to about 170,000 added jobs after a meager February figure of about 20,000.

Chinese markets were closed Friday for holidays, while Japan’s Nikkei 225 index added 0.4% to 21,807.50. The Kospi in South Korea edged 0.1% higher to 2,209.61. The S&P ASX in Australia dropped 0.8% to 6,181.30, while India’s Sensex rose 0.2% to 38,773.02. Shares fell in New Zealand and Indonesia but rose in Singapore and Malaysia.

SAMSUNG PROFIT PLUNGES: Samsung Electronics Co. said Friday that its operating profit likely fell more than 60% in January-March from a year earlier amid falling memory chip prices and slowing demand for display panels. The South Korean technology giant estimated an operating profit of 6.2 trillion won ($5.4 billion) for the January-March quarter, which would represent a 60.4% drop from the same period last year. The company said revenue likely fell 14% to 52 trillion won ($45.8 billion).

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 111.68 Japanese yen from 111.66 yen. The euro rose to $1.1236 from $1.1221.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude fell 11 cents to $61.99 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It dropped 0.6% to settle at $62.10 a barrel on Thursday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, shed 22 cents to $69.18 per barrel.

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