Asia report: Most markets rise ahead of high-level trade talks
Most markets in Asia finished in the green on Thursday, with investors holding their collective breath ahead of high-level trade negotiations between the US and China, set to begin later in the global day.
In Japan, the Nikkei 225 was up 0.45% at 21,551.98, as the yen strengthened 0.06% against the dollar to last trade at JPY 107.42.
Of the major components on the benchmark index, automation specialist Fanuc was down 0.36%, while fashion firm Fast Retailing rose 0.93% and technology conglomerate SoftBank Group added 0.77%.
The broader Topix index went the other way, slipping 0.02% to close the Tokyo trading session at 1,581.42.
In fresh economic data out of Japan, core machinery orders fell for the second month in a row in August, putting a dampener on sentiment.
On the mainland, the Shanghai Composite rose 0.78% to 2,947.71, and the smaller, technology-heavy Shenzhen Composite advanced 1.41% to 1,631.84.
South Korea’s Kospi was down 0.88% at 2,028.15, while the Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong managed gains of 0.1% to close at 25,707.93.
Both of the blue-chip technology stocks were in the red in Seoul, with Samsung Electronics falling 0.72% and SK Hynix off 2.35%.
Investor attention was very firmly on the state of US-China relations, with a high-level delegation from Beijing set to begin trade negotiations with their counterparts in Washington later in the day.
A report from the New York Times overnight suggested the Trump administration was considering the possibility of licensing American firms to sell supplies considered “non sensitive” to Chinese technology giant Huawei.
The White House had banned sales to Huawei earlier in the year, saying at the time that it was due to concerns around national security.
Sentiment wasn’t all rosy, however, with a report from the South China Morning Post early in the day claiming no progress was made in deputy-level negotiations between the two economic superpowers earlier in the week.
According to the report, Chinese officials refused to discuss forced technology transfers - an issue that is a major sticking point for the US in the negotiations.
Earlier in the week, US president Donald Trump told reporters: "If we can make a deal, we’re going to make a deal, there’s a really good chance.
"In my opinion China wants to make a deal more than I do."
Oil prices were higher as the region went to bed, with Brent crude last up 0.17% at $58.42 per barrel, and West Texas Intermediate rising 0.27% to $52.73.
In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 kept its head just above water, eking out gains of 0.01% to settle at 6,547.10.
Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand’s S&P/NZX 50 was down 0.5%, with subscription broadcaster Sky - no relation to its London-based namesake - plunging 20.7%.
The ailing satellite television provider lost the rights to broadcast domestic cricket matches to former incumbent telecoms monopoly Spark, whose stock lost 2.9%.
Sky was already floundering after losing the rights to the ongoing Rugby World Cup - the country’s largest television event - to Spark.
Both of the down under dollars were stronger on the greenback, with the Aussie last ahead 0.61% at AUD 1.4783, and the Kiwi advancing 0.58% to NZD 1.5800.