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Asia stocks rise, spurred by hopes for COVID treatment

TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares were mostly higher Tuesday as investors hung onto hopes the coronavirus pandemic may come under control with treatments being developed. Few details emerged from a phone meeting held Tuesday phone meeting held Tuesday by top U.S. and Chinese trade negotiators as part of the “Phase 1” truce aimed at ending a tariff war between the two biggest global economies.

China's Ministry of Commerce said the two sides discussed strengthening coordination of economic policies. Its announcement gave no details. Markets have floated higher in recent days in anticipation of progress toward a vaccine or effective treatment for the coronavirus pandemic that has hammered economies and killed more than 800,000 people.

“The positive coverage on potential COVID-19 vaccines and treatments opens the door wide open to a rotating carousel of stocks,” said Stephen Innes, chief global markets strategist at AxiCorp. If symptoms of the infection could become as mild as a cough or runny nose, the economy could return to normal, he said.

Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index rose 1.4% to finish at 23,296.77. South Korea's Kospi gained 1.6% to 2,368.01. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 added 0.5% to 6,161.40. Hong Kong's Hang Seng edged 0.1% lower to 25,522.36, while the Shanghai Composite fell 0.4% to 3,373.06.

Shares also rose in Taiwan, India and most of Southeast Asia. Investors are awaiting a speech by U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell later this week that he would normally give at Jackson Hole, Wyoming. This year's economic policy symposium will be online due to the pandemic.

Speeches at the annual Jackson Hole event are followed closely and Fed officials sometimes generate market-moving headlines. This year’s event is titled “Navigating the Decade Ahead: Implications for Monetary Policy.”

While signs that the increase in COVID-19 cases around the world may be slowing down gradually are cause for optimism, worries about recurring waves remain. Benchmark U.S. crude oil slipped 5 cents to $42.57 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It rose 28 cents to $42.62 per barrel Monday. Brent crude, the international standard, rose 14 cents to $45.27 a barrel.

The dollar rose to 106.02 Japanese yen from 105.99 yen. The euro climbed to $1.1812 from $1.1791.

AP Business Writer Joe McDonald in Beijing contributed.

Yuri Kageyama is on Twitter https://twitter.com/yurikageyama

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