Asian shares climb as investors digest U.S.-China trade developments

Asian shares were mostly higher on Friday, as investors digested recent developments on U.S.-China trade.

The Nikkei 225 in Japan rose 0.7 percent to close at 23,303.32 while the Topix index added 0.73 percent to finish its trading day at 1,696.67. South Korea’s Kospi closed 1.07 percent higher at 2,162.18 as shares of chipmaker SK Hynix jumped 2.16 percent.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index closed largely flat at 26,326.66, as shares of life insurer AIA gained 0.79 percent.

Meanwhile, the S&P/ASX 200 in Australia gained 0.87 percent to close at 6,793.70 as the heavily weighted financial subindex rose 0.51 percent.

Mainland Chinese stocks, on the other hand, declined on the day. The Shanghai composite was 0.64 percent lower to around 2,891.34 and the Shenzhen component declined 1.01 percent to 9,647.99. The Shenzhen composite also fell 1.134 percent to about 1,605.70.

Overall, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index was 0.56 percent higher.

US-China trade watch

Investors continued 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.

Eswar Prasad, a professor of trade policy at Cornell University, told CNBC on Friday that the current situation “does not look good.”

“At the moment, I think, the Chinese might be quite reluctant to make very significant concessions given that the atmosphere in Washington seems very unpredictable,” Prasad told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Friday. “Even if they make concessions, they could get rolled back.”

“I think the prospects for even a phase one deal have somewhat weakened in the last few days,” he said.

Overnight stateside, the S&P 500 saw a record close as it nudged 0.1 percent 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.

Currencies and oil

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was last at 98.164 after seeing an earlier low of 98.122.

The Japanese yen traded at 108.52 against the dollar, having strengthened from levels above 109.2 seen earlier this week. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.6792 after touching an earlier low of $0.678.

Oil prices edged higher in the afternoon of Asian trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures up slightly to $62.30 per barrel. U.S. crude futures gained 0.11 percent to $56.83 per barrel.

Source: CNBC