Asia stocks mixed amid US-China trade uncertainty

Asia markets were mixed in Friday morning trade following a record close overnight on Wall Street for the S&P 500.

The Nikkei 225 in Japan rose fractionally in early trade while the Topix index added 0.15%. South Korea’s Kospi, on the other hand, slipped 0.1%.

Meanwhile, Australian stocks advanced in morning trade. The S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.36% as almost all the sectors traded higher.

Overall, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index traded 0.17% higher.

Investors continue to monitor U.S.-China trade developments. White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said Thursday that Washington is “getting close” to a trade deal with Beijing, Reuters reported.

Markets have been on edge for much of the trading week amid uncertainty over the state of U.S.-China trade negotiations.

Earlier this week, reports surfaced that talks between the economic powerhouses hit a snag over agricultural purchases.

Chinese Ministry of Commerce spokesman Gao Feng said Thursday that both countries are holding deep discussions about a “phase one” deal, but noted that the rolling back of some tariffs is key to reaching an agreement.

“The trade war was begun with adding tariffs, and should be ended by canceling these additional tariffs. This is an important condition for both sides to reach an agreement,” Feng said Thursday at a weekly press conference.

Overnight stateside, the S&P 500 saw a record close as it nudged 0.1% higher to 3,096.63 stateside. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, on the other hand, ended its trading day just below the flatline at 27,781.96 while the Nasdaq Composite closed fractionally lower at 8,479.02.

U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said Thursday “a day of reckoning” for the U.S. “could be quite far off.”

“If you look at today’s economy, there’s nothing that’s really booming now that would want to bust,” Powell said in testimony before the House Budget Committee.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was last at 98.163 after slipping from levels above 98.37 earlier.

The Japanese yen traded at 108.51 against the dollar, having strengthened from levels above 109.2 seen earlier this week. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.6783 after declining from levels above $0.68 yesterday.

What’s on tap:

  • Hong Kong: Revised GDP for the third quarter at 4:30 p.m. HK/SIN

— CNBC’s Fred Imbert contributed to this report.

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