Asian shares mostly gain after Biden speaks with China's Xi

FILE - A street sign is displayed at the New York Stock Exchange in New York, Monday, Nov. 23, 2020. Stocks are opening higher on Wall Street, Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021 as investors get back to buying a day after the S&P 500 ended a six-day winning streak.   (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
FILE - A street sign is displayed at the New York Stock Exchange in New York, Monday, Nov. 23, 2020. Stocks are opening higher on Wall Street, Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021 as investors get back to buying a day after the S&P 500 ended a six-day winning streak. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

BEIJING – Major Asian stock indexes were mostly higher on Thursday after President Joe Biden held his first conversation with Chinese leader Xi Jinping since taking office.

Many markets in Asia were closed for the Lunar New Year and other holidays. Benchmarks in Hong Kong, India and Sydney advanced while Singapore and Thailand declined.

With much of Asia celebrating the traditional start of the Year of the Ox, there is little in the way of fresh market driving news likely for the rest of the week in Asia.

In their phone conversation, Biden and Xi appeared to have struck a conciliatory tone, Jeffrey Halley of Oanda said in a commentary.

U.S. officials have signaled Washington will keep in place export restrictions on technology and tariffs imposed by the previous administration of President Donald Trump.

But investors and businesses in the region are hoping a more even-keeled approach to relations between the two biggest economies by the Biden administration might help minimize future shocks to trade and investment.

“The new normal remains mostly intact, although financial markets long-ago took it in their stride," Halley said. “The initial contact appears to have been civilized though, and for that, the rest of the world can be grateful."

Markets have been lifted by surprisingly good company earnings reports, indications that a recent surge in new coronavirus cases is easing, progress in the distribution of vaccines and signs that lawmakers in Washington are moving toward delivering another financial boost for the economy.