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Stocks in Asia Gain, Won Rises on Korea Progress

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Stocks in Asia and U.K. futures gained as investors weighed the ongoing earnings season against a mixed set of signals for global economic growth. The won rallied as the two Koreas moved closer to peace on the peninsula.

The biggest gain for shares was in Hong Kong, while markets in Japan and China were closed for holidays. Equities in Seoul advanced with the won after North Korea pledged denuclearization on Friday ahead of the upcoming summit between Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump. Futures on the FTSE 100 advanced, suggesting a firmer open to trading. The pound was steady even after Theresa May ally Amber Rudd quit as U.K. home secretary late Sunday.

Data on Friday showed the U.S. economy cooled in the first quarter, though not as much as forecast, while the U.K. posted the worst quarterly GDP figures since 2012. France and Spain reported slightly slower growth rates. Meanwhile, a gauge of activity at China’s manufacturers remained robust, signaling that the economic expansion is intact.

Results from tech giants Microsoft Corp., Intel Corp. and Amazon.com Inc. boosted U.S. equities at the end of last week.

Elsewhere, crude oil dipped back below the $68-a-barrel level as investors wait to see whether the nuclear accord that Iran signed with world powers in 2015 will survive the scrutiny of the Trump administration.

These are some key events to watch this week:

The Federal Open Market Committee begins a two-day meeting on Tuesday. Fed policy makers will probably keep their target rate for overnight bank lending in a range of 1.5 percent to 1.75 percent, economists forecast.

It’s Golden Week in Japan, with public holidays Monday, Thursday and Friday. China is shut Monday and Tuesday.

The Reserve Bank of Australia’s monetary policy decision is out Tuesday. The central bank is expected to keep rates on hold, as they’ve been for more than 1 1/2 years.

The European Commission presents its spring economic forecasts, which include projections for growth, inflation, debt and deficit, and unveils its proposal for the EU’s seven-year budget framework on Wednesday.

Payroll gains in the U.S. probably picked up in April, with the unemployment rate forecast to drop to 4 percent, according to surveys of economists.

Earnings season continues, with Apple Inc. headlining. Other high profile results include Pfizer Inc., Merck & Co., Cigna Corp., HSBC Holdings Inc., BNP Paribas SA, Standard Chartered Plc, Tesla Inc., BP Plc, McDonald’s Corp. and Adidas AG.

And these are the main moves in markets:

Stocks

Hang Seng Index climbed 1.6 percent as of 2:03 p.m. in Hong Kong.

The Kospi index gained 0.8 percent.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 0.5 percent.

S&P 500 futures were up 0.3 percent. The underlying gauge climbed 0.1 percent on Friday.

Futures on the U.K’s FTSE 100 Index added 0.2 percent as of 7:06 a.m. in London.

The MSCI Asia Pacific excluding Japan Index gained 1 percent.

Currencies

The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index rose less than 0.1 percent after dropping 0.2 percent Friday, though it remains close to its highest since January.

The won jumped 0.8 percent to 1,067.65.

The euro traded at $1.2130.

The British pound was flat at $1.3786.

The yen lost 0.1 percent to 109.16 per dollar.

Bonds

The yield on 10-year Treasuries held at 2.96 percent as they started trading in London with Japan closed.

Australia’s 10-year bond yield dropped almost five basis points to 2.78 percent.

Commodities

West Texas Intermediate crude lost 0.4 percent to $67.85 a barrel.

Gold traded down 0.3 percent to $1,319.99 an ounce.

Source: Bloomberg