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James Hyerczyk

The major Asia Pacific stock indexes settled higher on Friday, boosted by the hope the newly signed U.S.-China trade deal will spark a recovery in the global economy. The markets were also underpinned by gross domestic product (GDP) data from China that showed growth was in line with analyst expectations.

On Friday, Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index settled at 24041.26, up 108.13 or +0.45%. Hong Kong’s Hang Send Index finished at 29056.42, up 173.38 or +0.60% and South Korea’s KOSPI Index closed at 2250.57, up 2.52 or +0.11%.

China’s Shanghai Index settled at 3075.50, up 1.41 or +0.05% and Australian’s S&P/ASX 200 Index finished at 7064.10, up 22.30 or +0.32%.

US-China Trade Deal Optimism

China’s growth struggled during the trade war with the United States, but with both economic powerhouses signing a “Phase One” deal on Wednesday, which included some tariff relief, investors are more confident the world’s second largest economy can make a near-term recovery.

Data earlier this week also showed that China’s exports rose for the first time in five months in December, and its imports beat estimates. Friday’s release of steady GDP results helped contribute to the optimism.

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China’s GDP Numbers Met Analyst Expectations

China said Friday its economy grew by 6.1% in 2019, meeting expectations even amid a trade dispute with the U.S. Analysts polled by Reuters had expected China’s economy to have grown 6.1% in 2019, compared with 6.6% in 2018. Still, China’s GDP growth last year was the slowest since 1990, according to Reuters records.

Beijing’s official growth target for 2019 was 6% to 6.5%, but Chinese Vice Premier Liu He said on Wednesday that GDP growth in 2019 was estimated to have grown more than 6% Reuters reported.

China’s GDP grew 6.0% on-year in the fourth quarter of 2019, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. Analysts polled by Reuters forecast China’s economy to have grown 6.0% in the October to December period of 2019.

In the third quarter of 2019, GDP growth in the world’s second largest economy was 6% – the slowest pace since the first quarter of 1992, according to Reuters records.

Other Chinese Data

Other Chinese economic data released alongside the GDP numbers showed growth in industrial output and retail sales for the month of December. Analysts read the data from Beijing positively, although there was still some caution about the partial trade deal with the U.S.

Australian Shares Continue to Rise

Australian shares reached fresh all-time highs for a fourth consecutive day following the signing of a trade deal between the U.S. and China earlier this week.

The market followed new highs set on Wall Street overnight following the end of the 18-month tariff war between China and the U.S. that hampered global growth and financial markets.

CMC Markets chief strategist Michael McCarthy said the market was also boosted by the U.S. Senate passing legislation enabling a new North American trade deal overnight.

“This further clearing of the trade clouds fogging the global economy saw investors push U.S. indices to new heights, and lifted the U.S. Dollar,” he said.

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