Asian shares recover as China outlines 2019 policy plans

SINGAPORE — Asian markets bounced back from slight early losses on Tuesday after senior economic officials said Beijing will cut taxes and keep monetary policy flexible to help weather China's slowdown.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan's Nikkei 225 index, reopening after a market holiday, added 0.9 percent to 20,544.64. The Kospi in South Korea jumped 1.5 percent to 2,095.58. Hong Kong's Hang Seng rebounded 1.9 percent to 26,793.29. It closed 1.4 percent lower on Monday. The Shanghai Composite index was up 1.0 percent at 2,560.17 and Australia's S&P ASX 200 rose 0.5 percent to 5,801.40. Shares rose in Taiwan, Singapore and Indonesia but fell in the Philippines.

WALL STREET: News that Chinese exports fell in December weighed on U.S. indexes. Technology companies fell, but a strong quarterly report by Citigroup lifted bank stocks. The broad S&P 500 index shed 0.5 percent to 2,582.61. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.4 percent to 23,909.84 and the Nasdaq composite was 0.9 percent lower at 6,905.92. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks slipped 1 percent to 1,432.81.

CHINA ECONOMY: Mainland Chinese company shares surged after senior economic leaders, briefing reporters Tuesday on the outcome of an annual policy-setting meeting last month, pledged to keep the monetary policy of the world's No. 2 economy flexible but stable and to support growth with improved access to financing for private and smaller enterprises. The assurances came as China weathers its worst slowdown since the global financial crisis amid a punishing tariffs dispute with the U.S.

CHINESE TRADE: On Monday, China reported that its exports to the U.S. fell 3.5 percent from a year earlier in December to $40.3 billion, although its overall trade surplus with the United States surged last year. Markets initially slipped on worries that tariffs were putting a drag on the world's second largest economy. But buying enthusiasm recovered on hopes that Chinese negotiators will be more keen to resolve a trade dispute with the U.S. Chinese Vice Premier Liu He is set to lead negotiators at talks in Washington later this month.

ANALYST'S TAKE: "Early movers had mostly headed into green, paring back losses from Monday's worry over China's trade performance," Jingyi Pan of IG said in a market commentary. "To some extent, the market is gradually shrugging this off as a one-off incident after front loading previously. The impetus this provides for a U.S.-China resolution had also likely inspired the gains," she added.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude oil added 62 cents to $51.13 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract lost $1.08 to settle at $50.51 per barrel on Monday. Brent crude, the international standard, gained 71 cents to $59.70. It gave up $1.49 to $58.99 a barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar strengthened to 108.51 yen from 108.16 yen late Monday. The euro rose to $1.1485 from $1.1473.

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AP Markets Writer Marley Jay contributed. He can be reached at http://twitter.com/MarleyJayAP

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