Asian markets enjoy gains as focus turns back to trade talks

Asian markets edged up Friday as

investors turn their attention to the China US trade talks, while keeping an

eye on the Gulf region after last week's air strikes on Saudi oil facilities

fanned geopolitical tensions.

With a delegation from China in the US to prepare for higher level

negotiations next month, there are hopes the economic powerhouses can find a

solution to their tariffs row that has dragged on the global economy for a

year.

Stock markets have enjoyed a broadly positive September thanks to hopes for

the talks, with both sides appearing to offer olive branches and sounding

less confrontational than they did in July and August.

A shift by central banks to easier monetary policies or a desire to do

so is providing some much needed support to equities, though there was

some disappointment in the Federal Reserve's lack of forward guidance this

week for further interest rate cuts.

Still, there is an expectation that more measures were likely on the way,

with Kate Warne, investment strategist at Edward Jones, telling Bloomberg TV:

There's a lot more monetary stimulus coming into the system.

In early trade Hong Kong rose 0.3 percent after a four day sell off, though

investors are on alert for further protests in the city following clashes

between pro democracy demonstrators and police last weekend. Shanghai also

added 0.3 percent and Tokyo went into the break 0.4 percent higher.

Dangerous game

Sydney gained 0.7 percent as investors grow optimistic the Australian

central bank will cut interest rates again at its next policy meeting, while

Seoul and Taipei added 0.2 percent. Singapore edged up 0.1 percent and

Wellington put on 0.4 percent.

However, traders are on edge in case of further attacks on Saudi Arabia at

the weekend following the devastating strikes that crippled two of its

biggest oil plants on Saturday and sent the price of crude soaring.

Both main contracts stabilised this week after the initial shock but there

are worries of a possible conflict after the US and Saudi Arabia pointed the

finger at Iran and said they were considering their response.

Adding to concerns, Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif warned

Thursday that any military strike on the country could lead to all out war.

It is hard to see oil markets wanting to sell crude heavily ahead of the

weekend and the event risk that entails, said Jeffrey Halley, senior markets

analyst at OANDA.

In fact, that would be a very dangerous game as the threat of more attacks

from Iran or its proxies have, if anything, increased, not decreased given

the enfeebled global response this week.

Key figures around 0230 GMT

TokyoNikkei 225: UP 0.4 percent at 22,142.42 (break)

Hong KongHang Seng: UP 0.3 at 26,563.22

ShanghaiComposite: UP 0.3 percent at 3,007.28

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1052 from $1.1043 at 2030 GMT

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 107.93 yen from 108.03 yen

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2526 from $1.2523

Euro/pound: UP at 88.23 pence from 88.12 pence

West Texas Intermediate: UP 64 cents at $58.77 per barrel

Brent North Sea crude: UP 48 cents at $64.88 per barrel

New YorkDow: DOWN 0.2 percent at 27,094.79 (close)

LondonFTSE 100: UP 0.6 percent at 7,356.42 points (close)

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)