Tokyo/Hong Kong — Stock markets in Asia gained on Thursday on hopes that China and the US may soon seal a preliminary deal to end their 17-month trade war, but conflicting signals from US President Donald Trump kept a lid on investor optimism.

Hopes that an agreement would soon emerge stemmed from a Bloomberg report on Wednesday that the two sides were close to a “phase one” deal, and Trump’s remarks that the talks were going “very well” after he had earlier said it might take until late 2020 to reach an accord...

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