Asian Shares Waver Following Lackluster Wall St. Session

BANGKOK (AP) -
A Chinese investor uses his cellphone as he monitors stock prices at a brokerage house in Beijing, Thursday. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

Shares were mixed in Asia on Thursday, with the Shanghai Composite jumping 0.7 percent to 3,237.43 on reports of possible progress in China-U.S. trade talks.

The U.S. and China opened a ninth round of talks Wednesday, aiming to further narrow differences in an ongoing trade war that has deepened uncertainty for businesses and investors and cast a pall over the outlook for the global economy.

The talks followed meetings last week in Beijing.

Larry Kudlow, a top White House economic adviser, said “good headway” was made in those talks and expressed optimism that areas of disagreement could be narrowed further this week.

Markets have swayed for months as the contentious talks drag on. The latest reports say that both sides have resolved most of the key issues, with some pledges from China to end practices viewed by the U.S. as technology theft.

Elsewhere in Asia, Japan’s Nikkei 225 index gained 0.1 percent to 21,724.95 while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 0.5 percent to 29,844.96. Australia’s S&P ASX 200 sank 0.8 percent to 6,232.80. The Kospi in South Korea edged 0.2 percent higher to 2,206.53.

India’s Sensex lost 0.2 percent to 38,814.73 and shares fell in Thailand and Singapore.

U.S. stocks recovered from a late-afternoon bout of selling on Wall Street to give the benchmark S&P 500 its fifth straight gain.

Technology stocks powered much of the last-minute rebound, led by chipmakers. Retailers, home builders and hotel operators were among the big gainers. Energy companies, consumer goods makers and industrial stocks took the heaviest losses.

Investors are awaiting the release Friday of the government’s monthly tally of hiring by U.S. employers and a new round of corporate earnings reports set to begin coming out next week.

The overall forecast is for a weak round of results, with earnings by S&P 500 companies expected to contract by 4 percent, according to FactSet.

The S&P 500 index added 0.2 percent to 2,873.40 and is about 2 percent shy of its most recent all-time high reached on Sept. 20. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.1 percent to 26,218.13. The Nasdaq composite, which is heavily weighted with technology stocks, gained 0.6 percent to 7,895.55. The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks picked up 0.5 percent to 1,560.91.

The dollar slipped to 111.36 Japanese yen from 111.48 yen on Wednesday. The euro strengthened to $1.1242 from $1.1233.

Benchmark U.S. crude lost 10 cents to $62.36 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It dropped 0.2 percent to settle at $62.46 a barrel on Wednesday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gave up 1 cent to $69.30 per barrel.