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Asia markets mixed as investors await US-China trade resolution

Key Points
  • Mainland China shares were mixed on the day.
  • U.S. data released Wednesday showed the country's trade deficit soaring to a 10-year high of $59.8 billion in December, climbing despite U.S. President Donald Trump's efforts to reduce the figure.
  • Meanwhile, tensions between both countries escalated, with Huawei suing the U.S. earlier on Thursday, claiming that the law which bans it from selling equipment to government agencies is unconstitutional.

Shares in Asia were mixed on Thursday following a third consecutive day of losses on Wall Street as investors sought developments on the state of U.S.-China trade negotiations. Meanwhile, U.S. tensions with China reached new heights as Chinese tech giant Huawei filed a lawsuit against the U.S. on Thursday.

Mainland China shares were mixed on the day. The Shanghai composite rose 0.14 percent to close at 3,106.42 and the Shenzhen composite added 0.489 percent to finish its trading day at 1,668.53. The Shenzhen component, on the other hand, declined 0.231 percent to close at 9,678.11.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index declined around 0.8 percent in its final hour of trading.

Elsewhere in the region, Japan's Nikkei 225 slipped 0.65 percent to close at 21,456.01 as shares of index heavyweight Fanuc dropped 2.80 percent, while the Topix declined 0.84 percent.

Renesas Electronics plunged 14.62 percent after reports that the company plans to partially stop chip production for up to two months in anticipation of a further slowdown in Chinese demand. Following the report, Renesas said it was planning to halt production at six plants in Japan for up to two months.

In South Korea, the Kospi declined 0.45 percent to close at 2,165.79.

Meanwhile, Australia's ASX 200 gained 0.29 percent as almost all the sectors advanced. The heavily weighted financial subindex added 0.2 percent as shares of the country's so-called Big Four banks were mixed: Australia and New Zealand Banking Group declined 0.11 percent and Commonwealth Bank of Australia was fractionally lower, while Westpac gained 0.33 percent and National Australia Bank rose 0.82 percent.

Asia-Pacific Market Indexes Chart

U.S. trade deficit soars; tensions with China rise

U.S. data released Wednesday showed the country's trade deficit soaring to a 10-year high of $59.8 billion in December, climbing despite President Donald Trump's efforts to reduce the figure.

Economists surveyed by Reuters had been looking for an increase to $57.3 billion, from November's $50.3 billion, which was revised up $1 billion in the latest count.

One analyst told CNBC that U.S. President Donald Trump could make a deal with China, if the latter agrees to make more purchases from the U.S.

"I think that one thing we've learned from Washington D.C. is that this president is very transactional," David Riedel, president and founder of Riedel Research Group, told CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Thursday.

"I think if he does see a deal on the table that involves considerable purchases by China ... of goods and commodities and things from the United States, he may just take it," Riedel said.

Officials from Washington and Beijing have been engaging in negotiations in an attempt to strike a deal on trade following a tariff fight that began in 2018.

Meanwhile, tensions between both countries escalated, with Huawei suing the U.S. earlier on Thursday, claiming that the law which bans it from selling equipment to government agencies is unconstitutional.

Currencies and oil

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 96.912 after touching a high around 97.0 yesterday.

The Japanese yen traded at 111.73 against the dollar after seeing lows around 111.9 in the previous session. The Australian dollar was at $0.7044 after declining from the $0.709 handle on Wednesday.

Oil prices were higher in the afternoon of Asian trading hours, with the international benchmark Brent crude futures contract advancing 0.17 percent to $66.10 per barrel and U.S. crude futures fractionally higher at $56.24 per barrel.

— Reuters, along with CNBC's Fred Imbert and Jeff Cox, contributed to this report.