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Asian markets mixed on trade optimism, attention on Brexit

Eyes are on Brexit this week, as Britain’s prime minister Theresa May plans to reach a deal with the opposition Labour Party to avoid a hard landing.

Markets in Asia ended mixed on Monday as a strong job figures report from the United States (US) and positive updates on the US-China trade negotiations was met with expectations to a turbulent and crucial week ahead for Brexit negotiations.

Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 ended the day’s session lower by 0.21%, or 45.85 points at 21,761.65, while the Singapore Straits Times Index eased 0.30% or 9.94 points, at 3,312.70.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index added 0.47% or 140.83 points, at 30,077.15, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index was flat at 3,244.81.

Markets continued the rally on Monday following Friday’s positive data from the US Labour Department which showed the creation of 196,000 net new jobs last month and a moderate wage inflation gain.

The market optimism continued further when top White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow said the US and China are getting ‘closer and closer’ to a trade deal. The top-tier officials of both nations would be talking again this week through ‘a lot of teleconferencing’, he told CBS.

Brexit week

Eyes are on Brexit this week, as Britain’s prime minister Theresa May plans to reach a deal with the opposition Labour Party to avoid a hard Brexit. The pound was higher at US$1.3058 at 8.00am Greenwich mean time on Monday, from US$1.3035 on Friday as investors expect a deal to be made.

Last week, Mrs May requested to delay Brexit until June 30 while the European Union suggested to postpone the divorce for up to a year.

Britain’s culture minister Jeremy Wright said the government will continue talks with the Labour Party on Monday to find a solution. ‘I’m entirely supportive of the prime minister’s view that she needs to find a way through this, that she’s tried everything else ... and we now need to talk about what else might work,” Mr Wright told BBC television.

‘As I understand it there will be conversations that continue today and we need those conversations to proceed and I hope (they) reach a sensible conclusion,’ he added.

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