Asia markets narrowly mixed as investors watch for trade developments

Asian stocks took a breather on Wednesday, with markets in Japan and Australia trading narrowly mixed as investors digested trade-related developments and the mixed close on Wall Street.

Nikkei 225 hovered around the flat line in Tokyo. The index last traded lower by 0.07 percent as steelmakers and utilities slipped, while oil stocks recovered slightly after the last session’s decline.

Down Under, the S&P/ASX 200 edged up by 0.29 percent, buoyed by gains in resource plays. Mining majors Rio Tinto and BHP gained 1.68 percent and 1.31 percent, respectively, while the country’s “Big Four” banks traded lower across the board.

MSCI’s index of shares in Asia Pacific excluding Japan gained some ground, trading 0.09 percent higher in Asia morning trade.

Markets in South Korea were closed on Wednesday.

Stateside, the Nasdaq composite touched a record high of 7,644.48 during the session before finishing the day up 0.41 percent at 7,637.86, its second record close in the week.

Technology stocks, including Amazon and Netflix, contributed to those gains, although other sectors came under pressure amid a continued focus on trade tensions. Meanwhile, other major U.S. stock indexes finished the day little changed.

Trade-related developments remained on investors’ minds. China reportedly agreed to purchase almost $ 70 billion in U.S. agriculture and energy products from the U.S. if the latter held off on imposing tariffs against Chinese imports, the Wall Street Journal said on Tuesday.

The U.S. is also involved in trade discussions with Canada and Mexico. White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow on Tuesday said that President Donald Trump was considering separate negotiations with the two countries. It was not clear if such a move would bring an end to the trilateral NAFTA.

Meanwhile, the euro traded at $ 1.1726 in Asia morning trade. Analysts said the euro’s overnight climb came on the back of Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s comment that exiting the euro zone was not an objective.

The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of currencies, last traded at 93.773.

Oil prices were mixed: U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude gained 0.09 percent to trade at $ 65.58 per barrel and Brent crude futures slipped 0.15 percent to $ 75.27.

Here’s the economic calendar for Wednesday (all times in HK/SIN)

  • 9:30 a.m.: Australia first-quarter GDP
  • 5:00 p.m. Reserve Bank of India interest rate decision

— CNBC’s Fred Imbert contributed to this report.

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