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Asian Stocks Gain; China Stimulus Hope, Brexit News in Focus

© Reuters. Asian stocks were mostly higher in afternoon trade on Thursday© Reuters. Asian stocks were mostly higher in afternoon trade on Thursday

Investing.com – Asian stocks were mostly higher in afternoon trade on Thursday as China’s leaders signalled more stimulus measures are being planned. A better-than-expected Caixin HIS Markit October PMI data also supported Chinese stocks.

Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Wednesday that Beijing should take steps to counter recent changing economic situation as downward pressure is increasing, His comments came after official data on Wednesday showed China’s manufacturing sector expanded at a slower pace in October.

Meanwhile, the Caixin-IHS Markit October Purchasing Managers' index that focuses on smaller sized firms came in at 50.1. Analysts polled by Reuters had expected the reading to ease slightly to 49.9 from 50.0 in September.

The Shanghai Composite and the Shenzhen Component gained 0.6% and 1.9% respectively by 2:00 AM ET (06:00 GMT).

President Donald Trump's economic advisor Larry Kudlow told CNBC in an interview that nothing is “set in stone” on whether the U.S. would impose more tariffs on China.

Trump has previously hinted that he may slap tariffs on all remaining Chinese imports if talks between the two nations do not go well in November.

"It is possible some good positive things could — I say could — come out of President Trump-President Xi talks. It's possible," Kudlow said.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index traded 1.8% higher. Standard Chartered PLC (HK:2888) reported a 35% year-on-year jump in net profit for the third quarter and a 33% hike for the first nine months of 2018.  

The positive earnings drove its shares in Hong Kong up 1.83% to HK$55.65 on Thursday morning. 

The company’s net profit jumped to $752 million in the third quarter of this year from $557 million in the same period in 2017. Its net profit also went from $1.763 billion in the first nine months in 2017 to $2.345 billion in the same period this year.  

Japan’s Nikkei 225 fell 0.7%, while South Korea’s KOSPI traded 0.6% higher.

Down under, Australia’s ASX 200 inched up 0.1%. National Australia Bank Ltd (AX:NAB) reported a 14% fall in annual cash earnings on Thursday.

Cash earnings came in at A$5.70 billion ($4.0 billion) for the year ended Sept. 30, compared with an average estimate of A$5.76 billion.

Elsewhere, the GBP/USD pair rose on Thursday on reports that UK Prime Minister Theresa has struck a deal with the European Union on financial services.

Citing government sources, the Times reported on Thursday that May and the European Union reached an agreement on a tentative deal that would give UK financial services companies continued access to European markets after Brexit.

Oil prices edged down on Thursday morning in Asia, as U.S. crude inventories surged for the sixth straight week. 

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