Via CNBC

Shares in Asia mostly gained Tuesday as market sentiment improved ahead of the phase one trade deal signing between China and the U.S. later this week. Optimism rose further after Washington said Beijing was no longer a currency manipulator.

The Nikkei 225 climbed 0.51% and the Topix index was flat after Japanese markets returned from a public holiday on Monday. Shares of technology conglomerate Softbank rose 3.22%.

In South Korea, the Kospi gained 0.38%.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 was up 0.64% as major miners gained. Fortescue Metals was up 1.48%, BHP Group rose 0.95%, and Rio Tinto was up 1.35%.

Chinese mainland markets were little changed in the morning. The Shanghai composite and the Shenzhen composite were trading below the flatline, and the Shenzhen component was lower by 0.21%.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index declined 0.17%.

Overall, MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.21%.

China’s yuan-denominated imports from the U.S. rebounded in November and December, Reuters reported citing data from China’s customs released on Tuesday. It was the first time that its exports went up since March last year.

In particular, China’s soybean and pork imports from the U.S. significantly rebounded in December. Washington has demanded that Beijing buys more agricultural goods from the U.S. as part of their phase on trade deal — the signing of that agreement is set to happen on Wednesday in Washington. The deal is also expected to involve some rollback of tariffs.

Ahead of the signing, the U.S. removed China from the currency manipulator list on Monday — more than five months after the U.S. Treasury put the country on it, saying that Beijing has been keeping the yuan artificially weaker.

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Even before it was removed from the list, the yuan had been appreciating and jumped to a five-month high last week.

On Monday, the Chinese currency strengthened further to the level below 6.90 — which was the strongest level to the dollar since Aug. 1. The offshore yuan was at 6.8727, from last week’s high of 6.9775. The onshore yuan was last at 6.8718, as compared to a high of 6.9786 last week.

U.S. markets notched record highs again amid the increased optimism.

The S&P 500 gained 0.7% to close at 3,288.13, hitting a record high. The Nasdaq Composite also notched an all-time high, advancing 1% to 9,273.93 as Tesla shares surged. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 83.28 points, or 0.3% to 28,907.05.

Currencies and oil

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was last at 97.373, falling back from a high of 97.380 earlier.

The safe-haven Japanese yen weakened, trading at 110.06 versus the greenback, from the 109 level earlier. The Australian dollar was little changed at around $0.6900.

Oil prices were little changed in the morning of Asia trading hours. U.S. crude futures traded flat $58.11 per barrel, and Brent crude edged up 0.14% $64.29 per barrel.

What’s on tap for Tuesday (all times in HK/SIN):

  • 5:00 p.m.: China’s new loans, loan growth, total social financing