Sydney — Asian shares held near an eight-month peak on Thursday as investors awaited developments on China-US trade talks, with both sides appearing closer to signing a deal and improved risk appetite weighing on safe-haven assets like the yen. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan took a breather after five straight days of gains took it to its highest since late August. Chinese shares started firm with the blue-chip index up 0.9%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was a tad softer. Japan’s Nikkei nudged 0.2% higher to stay near a recent one-month top. “Risk sentiment will likely be mixed on Thursday as investors digest developments on the trade front amid disappointing US economic numbers,” said Manila-based ING economist Nicholas Mapa. US data out on Wednesday showed services sector activity hit a more than 19-month low in March and private payrolls grew less than expected, supporting the Federal Reserve’s move to suspend interest rate hikes in 2019. Investors are ...

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