Morning Report

Equity

Stocks in Asia traded cautiously on Thursday despite overnight optimism from a report, which said Chinese President Xi Jinping is “scheduled to meet” with high-level members of the U.S. delegation this week in Beijing.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 and Topix were largely flat in early trade.

The moves came after government data showed Japan’s gross domestic product grew at an annualized rate of 1.4 percent in the October to December period last year.

The preliminary reading for fourth quarter gross domestic product was in line with expectations from economists polled by Reuters. It came on the back of a downward revision to 2.6 percent annualized contraction in the third quarter.

South Korea’s Kospi slipped 0.6 percent. Australia’s ASX 200 bucked the overall trend and rose 0.24 percent in morning trade despite the heavily weighted financial subindex slipping nearly 0.3 percent.

Overnight, U.S. stocks rose on hopes of a possible U.S.-China trade deal.

The South China Morning Post reported Wednesday that China’s Xi will meet with U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer on Friday.

Currencies

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 97.129 after rising from levels above 96.6 yesterday.

The Japanese yen traded at 110.97 against the dollar after weakening from levels below 110.5 in the previous session. The Australian dollar was at $7.089 after seeing highs around $0.713 yesterday.

The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) set the yuan reference rate at 6.7744 vs the previous day’s fix of 6.7675.

Oil

Oil prices inched up on Thursday, buoyed by hopes that potential progress in the latest Sino-U.S. tariff talks would improve the global economic outlook.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $53.76 per barrel , up 10 cents, or 0.2 percent, from their last settlement. They closed up 1.5 percent on Wednesday, having touched their highest since Feb. 5 at $54.60 a barrel.

International Brent crude oil futures had yet to trade. They closed the previous session up 1.9 percent, after marking their strongest since Nov. 21 at $63.98 a barrel.

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