October 28, 2019 / 7:34 AM / 16 days ago

China stocks end firmer on trade optimism; techs lead gains

SHANGHAI, Oct 28 (Reuters) - China stocks closed higher on Monday, underpinned by gains in tech heavyweights after Beijing pledged more support for the sector, amid hopes that the Sino-U.S. negotiators were making headway in their trade talks.

** The blue-chip CSI300 index ended 0.8% firmer at 3,926.59, while the Shanghai Composite Index closed up 0.9% to 2,980.05.

** U.S. and Chinese officials are “close to finalizing” some parts of a trade agreement after high-level telephone discussions on Friday, the U.S. Trade Representative’s office and China’s Commerce Ministry said, with talks to continue.

** Washington and Beijing are working to agree on the text for a “Phase 1” trade agreement announced by U.S. President Donald Trump on Oct. 11. Trump has said he hopes to sign the deal with China’s President Xi Jinping next month at a summit in Chile.

** Beijing is attaching more importance to the country’s tech sector and has vowed to seek tech self-sufficiency as many giants, including Huawei, were blacklisted amid a bruising Sino-U.S. trade war.

** China’s largely rubber stamp parliament has passed a new law on cryptography as the country gears up to launch its own digital currency, state media reported late on Saturday.

** The country is studying the application of blockchain and artificial intelligence in cross-border financing with a focus on risk management, and will further liberalise its capital markets, a senior foreign exchange regulator said on Sunday.

** The proposed new digital currency would bear some similarities to Facebook Inc’s Libra coin and would be able to be used across major payment platforms such as WeChat and Alipay, a senior central bank official said last month.

** The tech-heavy start-up board index ChiNextP ended up 1.7%, while the CSI IT index advanced 3.8%.

** The central government’s emphasis on blockchain technology again confirmed the starting point of China’s new tech cycle, China Merchants Securities noted in a report.

** Proactively embracing new technology is a prerequisite to seize the initiative in future global tech industries, while China’s support would be unprecedented given the urgent need for independent innovation and potential evolution in world’s financial landscape, China Merchants Securities added.

** Around the region, MSCI’s Asia ex-Japan stock index was firmer by 0.43%, while Japan’s Nikkei index closed up 0.3%.

** At 0715 GMT, the yuan was quoted at 7.0595 per U.S. dollar, 0.07% firmer than the previous close of 7.0647.

** As of 0716 GMT, China’s A-shares were trading at a premium of 29.48% over the Hong Kong-listed H-shares. (Reporting by Shanghai Newsroom, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)

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