General

Asian markets mostly up ahead of key meetings in China and US

HONG KONG, Asian markets mostly rose Monday as traders look ahead to a key meeting of the Federal Reserve, and a Chinese policysetting conference this week.

However, there is still caution on trading floors after Friday's sharp

selloff fuelled by concerns over China's economy, and despite a tweet from

Donald Trump suggesting a trade deal could be hammered out between Washington

and Beijing.

While there are signs the world's top two economies are beginning to move

towards a resolution in their bitter tariffs spat, there are increasing

concerns about the global outlook following another dour set of indicators

out of China.

A string of belowpar readings this year have highlighted a slowdown in the

Asian giant and observers are forecasting leaders will unveil fresh measures

to pep up the economy, which is on course for another year of relatively weak

growth.

A speech from President Xi Jinping to mark 40 years since China's economy

began opening up will be closely followed Tuesday, and that is expected to be

followed by a start of a conference setting out the country's 2019 economic

plan.

We should expect a raft of stimulus measures from China policymakers in an

attempt to stabilise the domestic economy, said Stephen Innes, head of Asia

Pacific trade at OANDA.

The Fed will conclude its ratesetting policy meeting Wednesday and while

expectations are for another hike in borrowing costs, comments from chairman

Jerome Powell will be closely watched for an idea of its plans for 2019.

' A lot of volatility'

In light of the ChinaUS trade row and signs of weakness in the global

economy, the bank has sounded a little more dovish in recent weeks, fuelling

speculation it will slow down its pace of rate hikes which has provided

some muchneeded support to equities.

The upcoming (Fed) meeting and China's policysetting meeting, have been

the most actively discussed topics around the markets, Innes added. And

both events have a smoothing effect on risk sentiment.

In early business, Hong rose 0.2 percent, Shanghai edged up 0.1

percent and Tokyo finished the morning 0.8 percent higher while Sydney put on

0.5 percent and Singapore jumped 1.3 percent.

Seoul added 0.2 percent and Taipei gained 0.3 percent but Wellington lost

0.3 percent.

Steve Goldman, fund manager at Kapstream Capital, told Bloomberg TV in

Sydney that we're going to see a lot of volatility in the new year because

of global uncertainty.

Hopes that China and the US can reach a deal to end their trade war were

given a boost by Trump Friday, when he tweeted: China wants to make a big

and very comprehensive deal. It could happen, and rather soon!

That came after China earlier in the day backed off fresh levies imposed

this summer on USmade cars and auto parts.

While a fullblown deal is some way off, the developments have provided

some hope to dealers.

On currency markets the pound remains bogged down around 20month lows as

Prime Minister Theresa May struggles to win concessions from EU leaders over

her Brexit agreement, which a majority of lawmakers in Westminster oppose.

Facing growing calls for another referendum to break the deadlock, May is

expected to tell MPs that such a move will do irreparable damage to British

politics.

However, with her agreement all but dead in the water, there is a growing

expectation Britain will leave the EU without a deal, which commentators warn

could hammer the British economy.

Key figures around 0300 GMT

Tokyo Nikkei 225: UP 0.8 percent at 21,536.85 (break)

Hong Kong Hang Seng: UP 0.2 percent at 26,132.71

Shanghai Composite: UP 0.1 percent at 2,597.30

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2580 from $1.2582

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1307 from $1.1303

Dollar/yen: UP at 113.44 yen from 113.39 yen

Oil West Texas Intermediate UP 25 cents at $51.45 per barrel

Oil Brent Crude: UP 18 cents at $60.46 per barrel

New York Dow: DOWN 1.7 percent at 24,168.96 (close)

London FTSE 100: DOWN 0.5 percent at 6,845.17 (close)

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)