U.S. stock indexes, which had initially tumbled following Gary Cohn's resignation from the Trump administration, pared some losses after the White House hinted that Mexico and Canada could be exempt from planned metals tariffs.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders on Thursday said recently announced tariffs on steel and aluminum imports could include "potential carve-outs ... based on national security." The president is expected to sign off on the tariff plan this week, she said.
While that was positive news for Canada and Mexico, trade-related concerns were unlikely to completely evaporate.
"[T]he potential for more, rather than less tariffs for China and Europe, remains the key risk," said Rodrigo Catril, a senior FX strategist at National Australia Bank, in a morning note.
Cohn, Trump's top economic advisor and a free trade advocate, had resigned after the president announced last week that tariffs of 25 percent and 10 percent would be implemented on steel and aluminum imports, respectively.
Markets also found "further reprieve after White House trade advisor Peter Navarro indicated he was not a candidate to replace the outgoing Gary Cohn," Mizuho Bank economist Zhu Huani wrote in a note.
The greenback was steady against a basket of currencies, with the dollar index trading at 89.585 at 2:48 p.m. HK/SIN after touching a two-week low of 89.407 in the last session.
Against the yen, the dollar last traded at 105.96, slipping once more below the 106 level after closing at 106.80 on Wednesday. The U.S. currency had dipped from the 106.1 handle to levels around 105.5 on the back of Cohn's resignation during Wednesday Asia hours.
Meanwhile, oil pared some losses after tumbling in the previous session due to trade concerns. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude advanced 0.16 percent to trade at $61.25 per barrel after settling 2.3 percent lower on Wednesday. Brent crude futures were up 0.16 percent at $64.44.
On the data front, fourth-quarter gross domestic product in Japan was revised higher to 1.6 percent from an initial estimate of 0.5 percent, Reuters said. That was also above the 0.9 percent increase projected in a Reuters poll.
Of note, the Bank of Japan began its monetary policy meeting on Thursday.
The European Central Bank, meanwhile, will announce its rates decision during European hours. The central bank is expected to remain cautious and keep its policy unchanged.