Asian stocks in mixed territory as NAFTA talks remain in focus

Asian stocks traded in mixed territory during midday trade on Wednesday after the Nasdaq and S&P 500 hit another record high on Wall Street overnight, as trade fears eased.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 was up by 0.43 percent, with the shipping sector up by 2.9 percent. South Korea’s Kospi also traded higher by 0.25 percent.

The ASX 200 was up 0.4 percent after trading largely flat earlier. Construction materials and building products supplier Boral’s stock surged 9.27 percent on the back of news that its full year net profit after tax rose 48.5 percent to A$441 million ($324 million).

The mainland China markets were in negative territory. The Shanghai composite fell by 0.35 percent while the Shenzhen composite dropped by around 0.68 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index traded by about 0.23 percent higher, even though information technology sector fell around 0.31 percent.

The moves came as Canada’s Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland arrived in Washington on Tuesday to resume talks about the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a day after the U.S. and Mexico announced that they had agreed to a new trade deal.

Some strategists, however, say the “breakthrough” in NAFTA negotiations may not benefit everyone.

“I would say it is a positive on some selected part(s)” of the equity markets, said Frank Benzimra, head of Asia equity strategy at Societe Generale, on CNBC’s “Street Signs,” pointing to the Japanese and Korean automakers as examples of sectors which may gain from the trade deal.

“If we look at the broader market and what it mean(s) for China, then the picture is unclear because we are still in a state of a big uncertainty, of a radical uncertainty on what the next step is going to be,” he added, in reference to the ongoing trade dispute between Washington and Beijing.

Overnight, the S&P 500 extended its gains to close at another record high of 2,897.52 after crossing the 2,900 mark earlier in the day for the first time. The Nasdaq Composite, which also saw another all-time high and rose 0.1 percent to 8,030.04. The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 14.38 points to 26,064.02.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of currencies, was largely flat at 94.710 as of 12:20 p.m. HK/SIN.

The Japanese yen remained largely flat against the dollar at 111.23 yen while the Australian dollar traded at $0.7341 at 12:20 p.m. HK/SIN.

In the oil markets, global benchmark brent crude futures traded near flat at $75.93 a barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures was at $68.52 a barrel.

Source: CNBC