Asia Markets

Asia stocks mixed amid potential delay in US-China trade deal

Key Points
  • Shares in Asia Pacific were mixed on Thursday amid reports of a potential delay in the signing of a U.S.-China trade deal.
  • The meeting between Trump and Xi could be pushed back as the two sides still need to decide on the terms and a venue, a senior administration official told CNBC. Reuters first reported the meeting postponement.

Shares in Asia Pacific were mixed on Thursday amid reports of a potential delay in the signing of a U.S.-China trade deal.

Mainland Chinese stocks edged higher on the day, with the Shenzhen component advancing 0.57% to 9,917.49 and the Shenzhen composite gaining 0.643% to approximately 1,651.77. The Shanghai composite was largely flat at about 2,978.71.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index slipped 0.18% as shares of Chinese tech giant Tencent fell 1.2%.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 closed 0.11% higher at 23,330.32 while the Topix index added 0.22% to finish its trading day at 1,698.13. Shares of Softbank Group fell 2.22% after the Japanese conglomerate announced its first quarterly loss in 14 years on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, automaker Toyota saw its stock jump 1.14% after reporting a more than 14% jump in operating profit for the second quarter as compared to a year ago.

South Korea's Kospi ended its trading day largely flat at 2,144.29. In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 closed 1% higher at 6,726.60. Earlier, the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported a 9% increase in the seasonally adjusted balance on goods and services in September, as compared with the previous month.

Overall, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index was largely flat.

US-China trade watch

Investors watched for market reaction to overnight developments on U.S.-China trade, following reports that U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping may not meet to sign a trade deal until December.

The meeting between Trump and Xi could be pushed back as the two sides still need to decide on the terms and a venue, a senior administration official told CNBC. Trump is scheduled to be in London for a gathering of NATO leaders on Dec. 3 - 4, and a potential signing could happen nearby before or after that visit, people close to the talks told CNBC. Reuters first reported the meeting postponement.

Those developments came after the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Chile, originally scheduled for later this month, was canceled due to protests in the country. Trump and Xi were scheduled to meet at the summit to discuss and potentially sign a "phase one" deal.

"I think ... in terms of the trade deal, it looks like it's had a positive development," David Sokulsky, CEO and chief investment officer of Concentrated Leaders Fund, told CNBC's "Street Signs" on Thursday. "Until we actually see something come out of it, it's very hard to know what's that gonna be."

Sokulsky said a "phase one" trade deal between the two economic powerhouses "doesn't really do a whole lot" unless issues such as intellectual property protection, currency manipulation and the trade balance are addressed.

"Headlines suggesting that markets are worried about reports of a likely delay in US-China "Phase 1" deal to December rather than this month lack nuance, if not miss the point," Vishnu Varathan, head of economics and strategy at Mizuho Bank, wrote in a note.

"It is not the timing (small delay) that is worrying," Varathan said. "Instead, (it is) more negotiation tensions requiring more time that an inadvertent delay may reveal and the ensuring final/finer details of an interim deal that really matter."

"The ability to progress beyond the relatively low-hanging fruits of the 'Phase 1' deal will be threatened to a greater degree by pre-existing tensions at this stage, than a mere timing delay due to logistical issues," he said.

Overnight stateside, stocks ended the session on Wall Street little changed. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was flat lost just 7 points to 27,492.56 while the S&P 500 was also barely changed at 3,076.78. The Nasdaq Composite declined nearly 0.3% to approximately 8,410.63.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was last at 97.983 after rising from levels around 97.8 yesterday.

The Japanese yen traded at 108.76 against the dollar after strengthening from levels above 109 yesterday. The Australian dollar was at $0.6869 after slipping from levels above $0.690 in the previous session.

Oil prices edged higher in the afternoon of Asian trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures gaining 0.11% to $61.81 per barrel. U.S. crude futures were 0.21% higher at $56.47 per barrel.

— CNBC's Yun Li contributed to this report.