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Asian Equities Gain; Abe, Trump Talk in Focus

Asian stocks gained in morning trade on Thursday – Asian stocks gained in morning trade on Thursday. Reports that U.S. President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe would start talks on trade were cited as tailwind for equities.

Trump and Abe said in a joint news conference that they had agreed to work closer on trade and to expand investment.

"President Trump and I agreed to start talks for free, fair and reciprocal trade deals," Abe said.

"On the U.S. side, they are interested in a bilateral deal," Abe told reporters. "Our country's position is that TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal) is the best for both of our countries," he added.

In response, Trump said "I don't want to go back into TPP, but if they offered us a deal that I can't refuse on behalf of the United States, I would do it.”

"But I like bilateral better. I think it's better for our country. I think it's better for our workers, and I much would prefer a bilateral deal, a deal directly with Japan," he added.

Meanwhile, the upcoming summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is also in focus as sources said it may be held in Sweden or Switzerland.

Trump said the plan for the summit could potentially be abandoned if he decides it would not be successful, or walk out of the meeting if it’s not productive while he’s there.

“If we don’t think it’s going to be successful, we won’t have it,” Trump said “If I don’t think it’s a meeting that’s going to be fruitful, we won’t go. If the meeting when I’m there is not fruitful, I will respectfully leave the meeting.”

The Nikkei 225 gained 0.6% by 9:55PM ET (01:55 GMT). Junichi Fukuda, Japan’s vice finance ministry for administration, is stepping down after allegations that he sexually harassed female journalists, reports on Wednesday said.

Fukuda denied the allegations but said the allegations made it impossible for him to continue in his position.

China’s Shanghai Composite and the Shenzhen Component recovered and both climbed 0.8% in morning trade on Thursday. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index gained 1.1%.

Down under, the S&P/ASX 200 was up 0.5%. Data on Thursday revealed the country added 4,900 jobs in March and missed an estimated gain of 20,000. The unemployment rate was 5.5%, matching expectation.

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