US-China trade talks remained at the fore on Tuesday as Beijing and Washington confirmed top-level negotiations would take place at the end of this week, providing support for stocks in Asia-Pacific while oil prices took a breather.
China’s ministry of commerce said on Tuesday that vice-premier Liu He will meet Robert Lighthizer, US trade representative and Steven Mnuchin, Treasury secretary, on Thursday and Friday. Chinese President Xi Jinping said last Friday that talks would continue in Washington this week after the sixth round of cabinet-level negotiations held in Beijing wrapped up with no sign of substantial progress.
The White House said lower level talks between China and the US will continue in Washington on Tuesday.
China’s CSI 300 maintained its upward momentum after its best one-day performance since November on Monday amid optimism over the trade talks. The index was up 0.4 per cent at a six-month high and taking its gain for 2019 to more than 15 per cent.
In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index rose 0.4 per cent thanks to a push from energy stocks, which rose 0.8 per cent after Brent crude hit a three-month high on Monday, and as the technology gained 0.7 per cent.
International benchmark Brent crude took a breather after climbing to a three-month high on Monday on optimism over the US-China trade dispute and following Saudi Arabia’s plans to make deeper than expected production cuts. Brent was 0.7 per cent lower at $66.07 a barrel while West Texas Intermediate nudged up 0.2 per cent to $55.72.
The Hang Seng China Enterprises index of major Hong Kong-listed Chinese companies was up 0.8 per cent at its highest since June.
The Topix in Japan was up 0.2 per cent at a 2-month high as the energy sector gained 1.3 per cent. South Korea’s Kospi was flat.
Australian vitamin maker Blackmores tumbled 34 per cent after it said a slowdown in China sales would dent profits in the second half of 2019. Meanwhile, the financials sector boosted the the S&P/ASX 200, rising 0.7 per cent as the index added 0.4 per cent.