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James Hyerczyk
Tokyo Stock Exchange

The major Asia Pacific stock indexes are trading mostly higher early Monday as investors continue to digest Friday’s robust U.S. labor market data, while attempting to absorb the news that China’s exports declined in November for the fourth consecutive month, according to the country’s customs data. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index is leading the indexes higher with a gain of 0.36%.

At 03:29 GMT, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index is trading 26578.82, up 80.45 or +0.30%. South Korea’s KOSPI Index is at 2089.28, up 7.43 or +0.36% and Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index is trading 23461.59, up 107.19 or +0.46%.

China’s Shanghai Index is trading 2911.73, down 0.28 or -0.01% and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 is at 6732.30, up 25.30 or +0.38%.

U.S. Releases Robust Jobs Report

On Friday, the U.S. government released a blockbuster jobs report that drove the Dow Jones Industrial Average soaring 337.27 points to close at 28,015.06, its best single-day performance in over two months.

The U.S. economy added 266,000 jobs in November, according to figures released Friday by the Labor Department, soaring well above the 187,000 estimate. The unemployment rate fell to 3.5%, matching its lowest level since 1969.

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China Exports Shrink for Fourth Consecutive Month

China’s exports in November shrank for the fourth consecutive month, underscoring persistent pressures on manufacturers from the Sino-U.S. trade war but growth in imports may be a sign that Beijing’s stimulus steps are helping to stoke demand.

Overseas shipments fell 1.1% from a year earlier last month, customs data showed on Sunday, compared with 1.0% expansion tipped by a Reuters poll of analysts and a 0.9% drop in October.

Imports unexpectedly rose 0.3% from a year earlier, marking the first year-on-year growth since April and compared with a 1.8% decline forecast by economists.

China’s trade surplus for November stood at $38.73 billion, compared with an expected $46.30 billion surplus in the poll and a $42.81 billion surplus recorded in October.

U.S.-China Trade Relations Have Investors on Edge

Beijing and Washington continue to negotiate a first phase trade deal aimed at de-escalating the trade dispute between the two economic powerhouses, but they continue to bicker over key details.

Late last week, Chinese officials held fast to their line that existing tariffs must come off as part of an interim deal. However, China did offer an olive branch by waiving import tariffs for some soybeans and pork shipments from the United States.

Top White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on Friday that a December 15 deadline is still in place to impose a new round of U.S. tariffs on some $156 billion of China’s remaining exports to the United States, but the president likes where trade talks with China are going, he added.

China, however, countered with a threat of its own, with one Chinese official telling Reuters that China will implement its own tariffs as a countermeasure if the December 15 tariffs go into place, which may dash any chance of a near-term trade deal.

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