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Asia Stocks Mixed on Friday            03/22 05:52

   Asian markets were mixed on Friday as caution set in ahead of U.S.-China 
trade talks in Beijing next week.

   SINGAPORE (AP) -- Asian markets were mixed on Friday as caution set in ahead 
of U.S.-China trade talks in Beijing next week.

   The Shanghai Composite index was 0.1 percent lower at 3,097.81 while the 
Kospi in South Korea rose 0.1 percent to 2,186.95.

   Australia's S&P ASX 200 gained 0.5 percent to 6,195.20. Hong Kong's Hang 
Seng lost 0.4 percent to 28,952.22. Shares rose in Taiwan and Thailand but fell 
in Indonesia.

   Japan's Nikkei 225 index, reopening after a market holiday, edged 0.1 
percent higher to 21,627.34, even after a report that inflation slowed slightly 
in February. The core consumer price index rose 0.7 percent from a year 
earlier, compared with January's 0.8 percent gain.

   A preliminary private survey, which was also released on Friday, put the 
country's manufacturing purchasing managers' index at 48.9 in March, unchanged 
from the previous month. Numbers below 50 indicate contraction on a 100-point 

   China's commerce ministry said Thursday that U.S. Trade Representative 
Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will visit Beijing for 
the next round of high-level trade talks.

   Ministry spokesman Gao Feng said that the eighth round of negotiations will 
take place next Thursday and Friday. He said Chinese Vice Premier Liu He will 
meet with officials in Washington in early April.

   Bloomberg reported Friday that both sides have made progress on a 
wide-ranging trade agreement through telephone calls and video conferencing. 
But it said U.S. officials were downplaying the possibility of an imminent deal 
with China, according to people familiar with the negotiations.

   Officials are seeking a middle ground on big issues like China's technology 
policy. Other matters could still be up for discussion too. On Thursday, CNBC, 
citing two sources familiar with the matter, said President Donald Trump wants 
China to "double or triple" its offer to buy up to $1.2 trillion of American 
products over six years.

   On Wall Street, news that the Federal Reserve no longer intends to raise 
interest rates this year spurred a rally in technology stocks, snapping a 
two-day losing streak.

   The broad S&P 500 index rebounded 1.1 percent to 2,854.88 and the Dow Jones 
Industrial Average gained 0.8 percent higher to 25,962.51. The technology-heavy 
Nasdaq composite jumped 1.4 percent to 7,838.96. The Russell 2000 index of 
smaller-company stocks advanced 1.2 percent to 1,562.41.

   In other trading, benchmark U.S. crude oil was flat at $59.98 per barrel in 
electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It dropped 25 cents to 
$59.98 per barrel on Thursday. The contract closed above $60 per barrel on 
Wednesday for the first time since November.

   Brent crude picked up 6 cents to $67.92 per barrel on Friday. It gave up 64 
cents to $67.77 per barrel in London.

   The dollar eased to 110.80 yen from 110.81 yen late Thursday. The euro 
strengthened to $1.1379 from $1.1374. 


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