Shares post gains

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    SINGAPORE- Asian stocks extended earlier gains, although advances were patchy ahead of key central bank meetings while the pound wobbled as opinion polls pointed to a tight UK election later this week.

    Investors were also cautious ahead of Washington’s deadline for new tariffs on Chinese goods this Sunday, although stronger-than-expected Chinese loans data provided some support for sentiment.

    MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.5 percent higher. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 led gains with 0.7 percent rises. Shanghai blue chip rose 0.2 percent.

    Japan’s Nikkei was unchanged. Futures pointed to flat open in Europe and on Wall Street.

    Faced with conflicting reports, investors have begun to suspect that even if tariffs due to take effect on Sunday are delayed, it could take until 2020 before Washington and Beijing can agree a preliminary deal to wind back their trade war.

    “Every day we get a little bit of a nudge one way or the other,” said Rob Carnell, Asia-Pacific chief economist at ING in Singapore. “You just don’t know who to believe, whether these comments have any basis in reality or whether they’re a negotiating tactic.”

    There was some good news form investors on China’s economy with new bank loans rebounding more than expected in November, data showed on Tuesday, a sign that recent cuts to key lending rates were finding some traction.

    Without harder news on the trade front, investors’ focus turned to the US Federal Reserve’s policy meeting and its outlook for the economy due at 2000 GMT, as well as Britain’s election and a European Central Bank (ECB) meeting.

    The Fed is widely expected to hold rates steady, with investors watching for whether the central bank changes its view of the economy and its 2 percent growth forecast for next year.

    US inflation data due at 1330 GMT, expected to hold steady, may further reduce chances for rate cuts next year should it surprise on the upside. – Reuters