Monday February 18th


European markets mixed amid US-China trade deal hopes

European stocks were mixed Monday morning, as market participants continued to monitor trade talks between the world's two largest economies. The pan-European Stoxx 600 was flat during mid-morning deals, with sectors and major bourses pointing in opposite directions. Mainland Chinese shares were the biggest gainers in Asia on Monday, a day which also saw the other major stock markets in the region advance, with trade talks between the U.S. and China set to continue in Washington this week after high-level meetings in Beijing concluded last week. The Shanghai composite jumped around 2.68 percent to close at about 2,754.36 while the Shenzhen component rose 3.954 percent to finish at approximately 8,446.92. The Shenzhen composite advanced 3.705 percent to close at around 1,440.95. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index also gained about 1.5 percent, as of its final hour of trading. Japan's Nikkei 225 jumped 1.82 percent to close at 21,281.85, while the Topix also advanced 1.56 percent to finish its trading day at 1,601.96. Meanwhile, the Kospi in South Korea gained 0.67 percent to close at 2,210.89. Brent crude oil eased on Monday, but remained on track for its strongest first quarter in eight years, thanks to a growing belief among investors that OPEC's supply cuts will prevent a build-up in unused fuel. Brent futures were down 17 cents at $66.08 a barrel by 1018 GMT, having touched a 2019 high of $66.83, while U.S. futures were up 30 cents at $55.89 a barrel. Gold prices rose to their strongest level in more than two weeks on Monday as the dollar weakened on hopes the United States and China are nearing a trade deal, while palladium hit a record high. Spot gold had gained 0.1 percent to $1,322.41 per ounce as of 0747 GMT. The metal touched $1,325.30 earlier, just below a 9-month peak of $1,326.30 an ounce marked on Jan. 31. U.S. gold futures rose 0.3 percent to $1,326.1 an ounce. U.S. financial markets will pause Monday in observance of Presidents Day.