By Marketwatch and Associated Press
Asian markets gained in early trading Friday after a senior Chinese official said negotiations for a phase-one trade deal with the U.S. are progressing.
Gao Feng, China’s minister of commerce, said Thursday that negotiators are in “close communication” and offered reassurances despite recent tensions. However, he also emphasized that China insists on a rollback of existing tariffs to be included as a part of any resolution.
Japan’s Nikkei (NIKKEI:JP:NIK) rose 0.3% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index (HONG:HK:HSI) gained 0.7%. The Shanghai Composite (SHG:CN:SHCOMP) was about flat while the Shenzhen Composite (SHENHZEN:CN:399106) inched up 0.3%. South Korea’s Kospi (KOREA:KR:180721) advanced 0.8%, while benchmark indexes in Taiwan (TAIWAN:TW:Y9999) , Singapore (SES:SG:STI) , Malaysia (KLS:MY:FBMKLCI) and Indonesia (INDONESIA:ID:JAKIDX) were little changed. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 (S&P:AU:XJO) rose 0.3%.
Among individual stocks, Kobe Steel (TKS:JP:5406) gained in Tokyo trading while oil producer Inpex (TKS:JP:1605) fell. In Hong Kong, Galaxy Entertainment (HKG:HK:27) and Tencent (HKG:HK:700) rose. Samsung (KRX:KR:005930) surged in South Korea, while Beach Energy (ASX:AU:BPT) jumped in Australia.
Investors are hoping that the world’s two biggest economies will reach a trade deal before new U.S. tariffs go into effect Dec. 15 on some popular products made in China, including smartphones.
“Whether or not U.S.-China can cut a deal remains the obsession; arguably the only game in town heading into ahead of the 15-Dec deadline for the next round of tariffs fall due,” Mizuho Bank said in a commentary.
Investors will be looking for clues into the state of the U.S. economy from the Labor Department’s November tally of hiring by nonfarm employers, to be released later Friday. Economists expect the unemployment rate to hold steady at 3.6%.
“You’ve had some mixed economic data this week, so the market probably wants to wait and see what we get tomorrow morning,” said Willie Delwiche, investment strategist at Baird.
On Thursday, the S&P 500 index (S&P:SPX) rose 0.2% to 3,117.43. Even with the latest gain, the benchmark index is on track for a weekly loss, though it’s still up 24.4% for the year. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DOW:DJIA) gained 0.1% to 27,677.79. The Nasdaq (AMERICAN:COMP) added less than 0.1% to 8,570.70.
Stocks fell early in the week after President Donald Trump said he wouldn’t mind waiting for a trade deal beyond the 2020 elections. The indexes rebounded Wednesday on a report that Washington and Beijing could be on track for a trade deal before the new tariffs kick in next week.
Benchmark crude oil lost 21 cents to $58.22 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It was unchanged at $58.43 a barrel on Thursday. Brent crude oil , the international standard, shed 28 cents to $63.11 a barrel.
The dollar (XTUP:USDJPY) fell to 108.69 Japanese yen from 108.74 yen on Thursday.