Asian stock markets shook off early doldrums Thursday following a report that U.S. and Chinese negotiators were outlining a plan to end the trade war.

Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index

NIK, +0.15%

  rose 0.3% despite a gauge of manufacturing activity falling to a three-year low, suggesting Japanese economic growth is slowing. The Shanghai Composite Index

SHCOMP, -0.34%

  advanced 0.3%

Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200

XJO, +0.70%

  added 0.7% while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng

HSI, +0.41%

  gained 0.5%. Seoul’s Kospi

SEU, -0.05%

  was unchanged. Benchmarks in New Zealand

NZ50GR, +0.56%

  and Taiwan

Y9999, +0.46%

  advanced along with Southeast Asian markets.

Among individual stocks, Rakuten

4755, +4.75%

  and Honda

7267, +2.31%

  advanced in Tokyo trading, and Hyundai Motor gained in Seoul

005380, +0.84%

 . Lenovo

0992, +11.91%

 , Sunny Optical

2382, +4.72%

  and AAC

2018, +2.70%

  surged in Hong Kong, while HSBC

0005, -1.74%

  slid. Bank stocks such as ANZ Banking

ANZ, +1.83%

  and Commonwealth Bank

CBA, +2.01%

  rose in Australia.

Investors appeared encouraged by a Reuters report that said the U.S. and China had sketched outlines of agreements in principle in six key areas, including cyber theft, intellectual property rights and forced technology transfer. U.S. stock market futures jumped immediately after the report, with Dow futures

YMH9, +0.08%

  up more than 100 points.

Earlier, a U.S. envoy said a meeting in Beijing last week “made headway.” President Donald Trump told reporters Tuesday the talks were “going very well.” Trump has suggested he might postpone the tariff hike on $200 billion of goods but made no firm commitment.

The U.S. Federal Reserve reassured investors by releasing minutes of its latest meeting saying, as expected, it will be patient with interest rate hikes amid economic uncertainty.

Lack of details in the Fed’s report “leaves the region to await further US-China developments,” said Jingyi Pan of IG in a report. After markets rose on Trump’s positive comments, she said, “one should not be surprised” to see more gains.

The benchmark Standard & Poor’s 500 index

SPX, +0.18%

  gained 0.2% to 2,784.70. The Dow Jones Industrial Average

DJIA, +0.24%

  added 0.2% to 25,954.44. The Nasdaq composite

COMP, +0.03%

  rose 0.03% to 7,489.07.

In Japan, the preliminary reading on a monthly purchasing managers’ index fell to 48.5 on a 100-point scale from January’s 50.3. It was the second unusually large monthly decline and the PMI’s lowest level since October 2016. “Such large falls are rare and suggest that the economy is losing momentum rapidly,” said Marcel Thieliant of Capital Economics in a report.

Benchmark U.S. crude

CLH9, +1.44%

  lost 8 cents to $57.24 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained 71 cents on Wednesday to $57.16. Brent

LCOJ9, -0.19%

  used to price international oils, advanced 2 cents to $67.10 per barrel in London. It gained 63 cents the previous session to $67.08.

The dollar

USDJPY, -0.13%

  edged down to 110.82 yen from Wednesday’s 110.85 yen.

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2019-02-21