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Xi's open trade talk lifts regional shares

Trevor Chappell
AAP

Australian shares and markets across Asia have lifted after China's president, Xi Jinping, promised to widen market access for foreign investors, a statement that helped ease concerns over a potential trade war between the US and China.

President Xi's comments boosted the Australian dollar, while US share market futures were also higher.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index gained 48.3 points, or 0.83 per cent to 5,857.0 points on Tuesday, while the broader All Ordinaries index was up 47 points, or 0.8 per cent, at 5,951.7 points.

InvestSMART chief market strategist Evan Lucas said it had been a positive day for the Australian market and other markets in the region off the back of President Xi's commitment to open trade.

"The ability to trade with China becomes more agreeable," Mr Lucas said.

"Mining and energy plays really picked up as he spoke."

President Xi, in a speech to the Boao Forum economic conference in China on Tuesday, promised to cut car import taxes, open China's markets and improve conditions for foreign companies.

He also called for international cooperation, while making no direct reference to US President Donald Trump or the tariffs dispute with the US.

On the local market, in the mining sector, BHP Billiton added 0.8 per cent to $28.88, Fortescue Metals jumped 3.7 per cent to $4.44, and Rio Tinto gained 2.8 per cent to $75.50.

Rio Tinto announced its latest global tax payments, revealing its Australian tax bill increased by 30 per cent to $A4.9 billion ($US3.8 billion) last year as higher iron ore prices boosted revenue.

Energy stocks lifted after oil prices rose the most in two weeks as US President Trump met with officials to discuss options in response to a Syrian chemical attack.

Woodside Petroleum was up 0.8 per cent at $30.70, Santos improved 0.7 per cent to $5.94, and Oil Search put on 1.2 per cent to close at $7.40.

Among the big banks, National Australia Bank strengthened 1.3 per cent to $29.15, Westpac ascended 1.5 per cent to $29.54, and ANZ advanced 1.2 per cent to $27.20.

Commonwealth Bank was 1.1 per cent higher at $74.36, seemingly unaffected by news four large US pension funds have joined a new class action against the bank over alleged breaches of continuous disclosure obligations related to the lender's money-laundering charge scandal.

Among other stocks, Godfreys soared 8.5 cents, or 40.5 per cent, to 29.5 cents on news that the struggling vacuum cleaner retailer is considering a $13 million takeover bid by its 99-year-old co-founder.

Infant formula and milk powder supplier Wattle Health Australia remains in a trading halt after it announced that it has entered into a new organic milk joint venture venture that will give it control of production from farm to consumer.

Wattle Health last traded at $2.26.

Biotech Immutep gained 0.3 cents, or 12.5 per cent, to 2.7 cents after global pharmaceutical giant Merck reported that a trial of its drug Keytruda had improved the overall survival rate of patients with non-small cell lung cancer.

Immutep is collaborating with Merck on a separate trial involving Keytruda and another dug.

Meanwhile, the Australian dollar rose against the US dollar, also on the back of President Xi's comments.

At 1700 AEST, the local currency was worth 77.36 US cents, up from 76.92 US cents on Monday.

ON THE ASX:

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 gained 48.3 points, or 0.83 per cent, to 5,857.0 points

* The broader All Ordinaries index was up 47 points, or 0.8 per cent, at 5,951.7 points

* The SPI200 futures contract was up 46 points, or 0.79 per cent, at 5,839 points

* National turnover was 3.6 billion securities traded, worth $4.9 billion

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1700 AEST:

One Australian dollar buys:

* 77.36 US cents, from 76.92 on Monday

* 82.90 Japanese yen, from 82.39 yen

* 62.82 euro cents, from 62.58 euro cents

* 54.69 British pence, from 54.55 pence

* 105.37 NZ cents, from 105.33 cents

GOLD:

The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1700 AEST was $US1,333.09 per fine ounce, from $US1,331.33 per fine ounce on Monday.

BOND SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEST:

* CGS 4.50 per cent April 2020, 2.0381pct, from 2.0225pct on Monday

* CGS 4.75pct April 2027, 2.6695pct, from 2.6399pct

Sydney Futures Exchange prices:

* June 2018 10-year bond futures contract was 97.285 (implying a yield of 2.715pct), from 97.310 (2.690pct) on Monday

* June 2018 3-year bond futures contract was 97.82 (2.18pct), from 97.835 (2.165pct).

(*Bond market closes taken at 1630 AEST previous local session; currency closes taken from 1700 AEST previous local session)