Asia stocks set to trade higher amid trade confusion

Stocks in Asia were set to trade higher on Thursday as investors digest recent developments on U.S.-China trade.

Futures pointed to a higher open for Japanese stocks, with the Nikkei futures contract in Chicago at 23,350 while its counterpart in Osaka was at 23,360. The Nikkei 225 last closed at 23,135.23.

Meanwhile, shares in Australia jumped in early trade after leading losses among regional markets on Wednesday, with the S&P/ASX 200 gaining about 1%. Investors will watch for the release of Australia’s merchandise trade and retail sales data for October, set to be released around 8:30 a.m. HK/SIN.

On the economic front, the Reserve Bank of India is expected to announce its interest rate decision at 2:15 p.m. HK/SIN.

US-China trade confusion

Investor reaction to overnight developments on U.S.-China trade will be watched, after a news report from Bloomberg said Washington and Beijing were edging closer to a trade deal.

The Bloomberg report, which cited people familiar with the talks, said the two countries were moving closer to agreeing on the amount of tariffs that would be rolled back in a so-called phase-one trade deal. President Donald Trump also said Wednesday that trade talks with China were going well.

That came just a day after Trump said Tuesday he may delay a trade deal with China till after the 2020 U.S. presidential election, leading to a sell-off across markets globally. The recent developments come ahead of a closely watched date of Dec. 15, when additional tariffs on Chinese exports to the U.S. are set to go into effect.

Overnight stateside, the major indexes rebounded from a 3-day losing streak following the Bloomberg report. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 146.97 points higher at 27,649.78 while the S&P 500 gained 0.6% to end its trading day at 3,112.76. The Nasdaq Composite advanced 0.5% to close at 8,566.67.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was last at 97.602 after earlier seeing highs above 97.7.

The Japanese yen traded at 108.84 after weakening from levels below 108.5 yesterday. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.6848 after bouncing from lows around $0.681 in the previous session.

What’s on tap:

  • Australia: Merchandise trade and retail sales data for October at 8:30 a.m. HK/SIN
  • India: Reserve Bank of India interest rate decision at 2:15 p.m. HK/SIN

— CNBC’s Fred Imbert contributed to this report.