S&P 500 record, US-China trade, currencies

Asia markets were set to trade little changed on Friday following a record close overnight on Wall Street for the S&P 500.

Futures pointed to a muted open for Japanese shares. The Nikkei futures contract in Chicago was at 23,160 and its counterpart in Osaka was at 23,120. The Nikkei 225 last closed at 23,141.55.

Meanwhile, Australian stocks edged higher in early trade. The S&P/ASX 200 gained about 0.4% as almost all the sectors traded higher.

Markets have been on edge for much of the trading week amid uncertainty over the state of U.S.-China trade negotiations. Talks between the economic powerhouses have reportedly hit a snag over agricultural purchases.

Chinese Ministry of Commerce spokesman Gao Feng said overnight that both countries are holding deep discussions about a “phase one” deal, but noted that the rolling back of some tariffs is key to reaching an agreement.

“The trade war was begun with adding tariffs, and should be ended by canceling these additional tariffs. This is an important condition for both sides to reach an agreement,” Feng said Thursday at a weekly press conference.

Overnight stateside, the S&P 500 saw a record close as it nudged 0.1% higher to 3,096.63 stateside. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, on the other hand, ended its trading day just below the flatline at 27,781.96 while the Nasdaq Composite closed fractionally lower at 8,479.02.

U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said Thursday “a day of reckoning” for the U.S. “could be quite far off.”

“If you look at today’s economy, there’s nothing that’s really booming now that would want to bust,” Powell said in testimony before the House Budget Committee.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 98.148 after touching a high above 98.424 earlier.

The Japanese yen traded at 108.38 against the dollar, having strengthened from levels above 109.2 seen earlier this week. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.6785 after declining from levels above $0.68 yesterday.

What’s on tap:

  • Hong Kong: Revised GDP for the third quarter at 4:30 p.m. HK/SIN

— CNBC’s Fred Imbert contributed to this report.

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