A Chinese investor uses his cellphone as he monitors stock prices at a brokerage house in Beijing, Thursday, April 4, 2019. Shares were mixed in Asia on Thursday after modest gains overnight on Wall Street.(AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

Asian shares waver following lackluster Wall St session

April 04, 2019 - 2:50 am

BANGKOK (AP) — Shares were mixed in Asia on Thursday, with the Shanghai Composite jumping 0.7% 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 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% to 21,724.95 while Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.5% to 29,844.96. Australia's S&P ASX 200 sank 0.8% to 6,232.80. The Kospi in South Korea edged 0.2% higher to 2,206.53.

India's Sensex lost 0.2% 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, homebuilders 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%, according to FactSet.

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

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

ENERGY: 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% to settle at $62.46 a barrel on Wednesday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gave up 1 cents to $69.30 per barrel.

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AP Business writers Alex Veiga and Damian J. Troise contributed to this story.

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