Asian shares hit 18-month top in festive cheer; oil, gold hold gains.

 
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Asian shares jumped to an 18-month high on Friday while gold and oil prices stayed buoyant in a holiday-shortened week, as investor optimism was boosted by hopes a U.S.-China trade deal would soon be signed. Traders returned from their Christmas and Boxing Day break to digest comments from Beijing that it was in close contact with Washington about an initial trade agreement, shortly after U.S. President Donald Trump talked up a signing ceremony for the recently struck Phase 1 trade deal. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS jumped 0.55% to 555.25, a level not seen since mid-2018. It is up about 16% so far this year. Japan s Nikkei .N225 was flat, but on track for a near 20% rise this year,

biggest annual increase since 2013. The country's industrial output slipped for a second straight month in November in another sign the economy is cooling. Japan has approved a record budget for the coming fiscal year, in a bid...

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