Asian stock markets were mixed in early trading Thursday, as optimism over the recently concluded U.S.-China trade talks were muted by a disappointing Chinese inflation report.

Earlier, U.S. and Chinese officials said progress had been made during the three days of talks in Beijing. While major hurdles remain, the talks appeared to clear a path for higher-level negotiations that could further ease trade tensions before President Donald Trump’s March deadline, when he said he will raise tariffs on more than $200 billion in Chinese-made good from 10% to 25%.

“Although we were hoping for a more favorable statement from the U.S.-China trade talks which ended yesterday, it appears that at least on the surface that U.S.-China trade discussion remains a work in progress,” Stephen Innes, head of Asia Pacific trading at Oanda, said in a Thursday research note. “Unquestionably markets were looking for something more concrete to sink their teeth into despite the statement chock-full of positives but lacking in the necessary specificity.”

Later, China’s National Bureau of Statistics said that producer-price inflation sharply slowed in December, suggesting slower economic growth.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index

HSI, +0.02%

  made up early losses and was last up 0.3%. Financials lagged, while pharma companies CSPC

1093, +9.15%

  and Sino Biopharmaceutical

2922, +11.02%

  surged. Tencent

0700, +0.37%

  rose slightly, despite being left off a list of new videogame licensees by a Chinese regulator, according to the Financial Times.

The Shanghai Composite

SHCOMP, +0.04%

  also recovered from session lows, and was last up 0.2%, while the smaller-cap Shenzhen Composite

399106, +0.27%

  rose 0.4%.

Japan’s Nikkei

NIK, -1.31%

  fell 1.1%, with robotics maker Fanuc

6954, -2.51%

  down 3.3% and Fast Retailing

9983, -2.05%

  slipping 1.4%. Takeda Pharmaceutical

4502, +2.33%

  rose 2.8%.

South Korea’s Kospi

SEU, -0.05%

  was about flat, though Samsung

005930, +0.51%

  rose 1%. Australia’s ASX 200

XJO, +0.29%

  fell slightly, with bank stocks down. Benchmark indexes were up in Singapore

STI, +0.53%

  but down in Taiwan

Y9999, -0.18%


On Wall Street, stocks rose for the fourth consecutive session after the trade talks were extended to a third day. Traders took this as a positive sign, but a partial government shutdown at home that appeared far from being resolved limited gains. The S&P 500 index

SPX, +0.41%

  added 0.4% to 2,584.96. The Dow Jones Industrial Average

DJIA, +0.39%

  climbed 0.4% to 23,879.12 and the Nasdaq composite

COMP, +0.87%

  was 0.9% higher at 6,957.08.

Oil prices settled after hitting their highest levels in almost a month. U.S. crude

CLG9, -1.09%

 , which has jumped 15% in 2019, dropped 52 cents to $51.84 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It surged 5.2% to $52.36 per barrel on Wednesday. Brent crude

LCOH9, -0.83%

 , used to price international oils, gave up 54 cents to $60.90 per barrel. It climbed 4.6% to $61.44 a barrel in London.

The dollar

USDJPY, -0.20%

  strengthened to 107.90 yen from 108.15 yen late Wednesday.

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