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Asia shares rise on possible Xi-Biden meet, lower oil prices

Asia shares rise

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan gained 1.45%, Hong Kong’s index added 2.41%, Kospi added 1.6%, Australian shares advanced 0.51%, and Nikkei firmed 0.72%

Asian shares rallied on Thursday, supported by a possible easing in U.S.-China tensions, and weaker energy prices, as oil edged down from multi-year highs.

U.S. and European futures also rose with S&P 500 futures rising 0.52%, and pan-region Euro Stoxx 50 futures gaining 1.23% in early trade a day after the Euro STOXX 600 index declined 1.03%

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan gained 1.45%.

Hong Kong led Asia’s gains. The index added 2.41%, rebounding from its lowest close in 12 months, and was headed towards its best day since August, though analysts remained cautious.

It’s too early to say this is part of a turnaround. Today there seems to be some bottom fishing and short covering going on, and also a possible meeting between President Xi Jinping and President Joe Biden is helping the mood, said Steven Leung executive director for institutional sales at UOB Kay Hian in Hong Kong.

The US and China have agreed in principle for their presidents to hold a virtual meeting before the end of the year, a senior U.S. administration official said on Wednesday.

Elsewhere, South Korea’s Kospi added 1.6%, Australian shares advanced 0.51%, and Japan’s Nikkei firmed 0.72%, snapping eight days of losses.

However, there were still reasons for caution around the region, especially with China on holiday, seemingly contributing to a delay in progress towards any resolution for beleaguered developer China Evergrande.

Carlos Casanova, senior Asia economist at UBP, said there were ongoing concerns about China’s power crunch and its property market, given the government did not seem to in a hurry to step in even as debt problems at Evergrande threatened to spill over into the wider industry.

There is contagion into the broader real estate sector, authorities are not doing more to intervene, and so investors are trying to assess what this new pain threshold means, he said. But he added that the improved mood in U.S.-China relations, especially the more constructive tone in the speech by trade chief Katherine Tai this week, had boosted risk sentiment.

Also supporting equities, oil prices pulled away from multi-year highs hit a day earlier. A rally in oil prices had been a major contributor to a sell-off in equities this week.

U.S. crude dropped 0.93% to $76.71 a barrel. Crude dropped overnight after hitting a seven-year high of $79.78 on Wednesday on an unexpected rise in U.S. crude stocks.

Brent crude shed 0.5% to $80.69 per barrel, off its three-year high of $83.47 also hit on Wednesday.

European and U.S. natural gas prices also both slipped over 10% overnight in volatile trade. European prices had hit all-time highs early on Wednesday amid an enduring supply crunch.

The fall in energy prices and apparent temporary deal to avert a federal debt default contributed to a late rally on Wall Street.

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