Trump and N Korea talks: Asia markets rally on peace hopes

North Korean missiles on trucks. Image copyright Getty Images

Asian markets rallied on Friday, on hopes that North Korean nuclear tensions might be easing.

Investors responded to US President Donald Trump accepting an invitation for face-to-face talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

There was already some optimism on the markets after Mr Trump earlier left the door open for possible exemptions to US tariffs on steel and aluminium.

South Korea and Japan's main markets began well but later shed some gains.

Seoul's Kospi index finished 1.1% ahead.

Meanwhile Japan's Nikkei 225 index - which initially rose by 2.5% - closed only 0.5% higher.

A sigh of relief is no surprise

Analysis by Karishma Vaswani, Asia Business Correspondent

Investors in the region have been watching the potential conflict between the US and North Korea for months now.

And news that the two could meet by May of this year is being greeted with a sigh of relief by many. And that shouldn't come as a surprise.

Nobody wants a conflict on the Korean peninsula to break out, especially between arguably two of the world's most volatile leaders.

East Asian economies would be almost certainly be hit, because of integrated supply chains in the region. It's a region central to global shipping and manufacturing, so any escalation of the current tensions could disrupt trade and economic activity.

But perhaps what's more interesting, is what a potential meeting between "Rocket Man" and the "Dotard" says about just how badly the North Korean economy may be doing as sanctions bite.

Read more from Karishma: Did sanctions push N Korea into US talks?

Hong Kong's Hang Seng ended 1.1% higher, while China's mainland indexes also made small gains.

The South Korean won climbed slightly, while the Japanese yen slipped against the US dollar.

That is not unexpected given the yen is a safe haven currency, with investors tending to seek out riskier assets with better returns when things appear more stable.

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