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Asia markets positive as US seeks to reopen trade talks with China; semiconductors slump on Wall Street warning of demand slowdown

Key Points
  • Asia markets were broadly positive on Wednesday as the U.S. seeks to restart trade talks with China.
  • Semiconductor stocks in Asia took a hit following the slump in the U.S. after Goldman Sachs warned of worsening memory chip demand.
  • Dow Jones reported Wednesday that senior U.S. officials led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had sent an invitation to Chinese officials requesting for a "ministerial-level delegation" to attend the trade talks.

Asia markets were largely positive on Thursday, on the back of news that the U.S. was attempting to restart trade negotiations with China.

The  saw a gain of 0.96 percent to end the trading day at 22,821.32, with the moves coming after Japan saw an 11 percent increase in core machinery orders for the month of July, largely rebounding from a decline in the prior month.

Some economists, however, warned that the number should be "put into context."

"This is a pretty good number, but I think it still doesn't ease our worries about the export outlook for Japan," said Izumi Devalier, head of Japan economics at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

Speaking with CNBC's Akiko Fujita, Devalier said the released number reflects domestic orders and not overseas demand, where she was "starting to see some weakness," particularly from China, though it was "hard to say" if that was directly related to the ongoing tariff war between Washington and Beijing.

South Korea's Kospi also climbed by 0.14 percent to close at 2,286.23.

Greater China markets fell from their earlier highs but were broadly positive, as Hong Kong's Hang Seng index surged by 2.54 percent to close at 27,014.49.

Over on the mainland, the was higher by 1.15 percent to close around 2,686.58 while the Shenzhen composite returned to positive territory, ending the trading day higher by 0.71 percent at approximately 1,413.57.

Down Under, the ASX 200 ended the day 0.76 percent lower at 6,128.7, with its utilities sector down by 2.15 percent.

The moves in Australia came after employment numbers from jobs data for the month of August exceeded expectations at 44,000 as compared to the Reuters forecast of 15,000.

"The strong (labor) market is clearly a source of strength for household incomes and if sustained points to stronger wages growth," Shane Oliver, head of investment strategy and chief economist at AMP Capital, said in a note.

Semiconductor stocks follow Wall Street slump

On Wednesday, shares of semiconductor companies stateside fell after Goldman Sachs warned of a slowdown in memory chip demand.

Asian companies in the sector experienced similar declines on Thursday, as stocks of chipmakers and associated manufacturers slumped against markets' overall positive environment.

Japan's Tokyo Electron fell by 2.99 percent for the day and semiconductor test equipment manufacturer Advantest saw an even bigger drop of 5.39 percent. Over in South Korea, industry heavyweight slid by 1.12 percent while Taiwan's Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company ended the day lower by 2.11 percent.

Asia-Pacific Market Indexes Chart

The U.S. was in the early stages of proposing a new round of trade talks with China in the near future, sources familiar with the matter told CNBC on Wednesday. That came after Dow Jones reported earlier that senior U.S. officials led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had sent an invitation to Chinese officials requesting for a "ministerial-level delegation" to attend trade discussions.

Following the news, the Dow Jones Industrial Average and saw small gains for the trading day stateside while the closed lower on the back of a fall in tech stocks.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of currencies, was at 94.905 as of 4:28 p.m. HK/SIN, strengthening after a decline in the previous session.

The continued to weaken against the dollar at 111.47 yen, while the held on to most of its gains from the morning to trade at $0.7180, as of 4:29 p.m. HK/SIN.

Overnight in the oil markets, futures contracts rose on the back of a greater-than-expected fall in U.S. crude inventories, with impending sanctions by Washington on Tehran continuing to weigh on concerns over its potential impact on global crude supply.

In Asia afternoon trade, oil prices continued to see pullbacks after yesterday's rally. As of 4:31 p.m. HK/SIN, the global benchmark Brent crude futures contract was lower by around 0.92 percent at $79.01 per barrel, while U.S. crude futures fell further by about 1.5 percent at $69.33 per barrel as the country braced for an expected landfall of Hurricane Florence.

— CNBC's Tae Kim, along with Reuters, contributed to this report.