Hong Kong stocks closed sharply higher on Wednesday, in line with healthy gains across Asia on optimism about the outlook for next month’s China-US trade talks and following Beijing’s decision to further open up its financial markets.

The Hang Seng Index rallied 1.8 percent, to 27,159.

Investors made the most of the upbeat mood to pick up cheap stocks after months of sometimes violent protests in the city weighed on the stock market. Property firms were among the biggest gainers.

On the mainland, the Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.4 percent, to 3,008 and the Shenzhen Composite Index slipped 0.9 percent, to 1,671.

The market was unmoved as Beijing said 16 US categories of goods would be exempt from tariffs, ahead of a planned top-level trade talks next month. Dealers also appeared to brush off Beijing’s decision on Tuesday to lift limits on foreign investment in the country.

Tokyo finished 1 percent higher, Singapore put on more than 1 percent, Seoul rose 0.8 percent, Sydney gained 0.4 percent and Taipei added 0.3 percent, while Manila, Mumbai, Bangkok and Jakarta also posted gains.

Wellington tumbled almost 2 percent as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s government was rocked by its handling of sexual assault allegations against a top Labour Party staffer. (AFP)