Stocks in Asia were set to trade mixed on Thursday ahead of Chinese trade data, which could shed further light on the impact of Washington’s protracted trade war between Washington and Beijing. 

Futures pointed to a higher open in Japan. Nikkei futures contracts in Chicago and Osaka both traded around 20,590, compared to the benchmark Nikkei 225’s last close at 20,516.56.

Stocks in Australia were set to slip. The SPI futures contract was at 6,438.0, lower than the S&P/ASX 200’s last close at 6,519.50.

China trade numbers

China is expected to release exports, imports and trade balance numbers at 11:00 a.m. HK/SIN. Investors will look for clues about how the ongoing trade fight between the U.S. and China is affecting the world’s second-largest economy. 

Beijing and Washington have already placed tariffs on billions of dollars worth of each other’s goods. Those developments have roiled markets for more than a year, and there have been signs the rafts of additional tariffs from both sides are having real effects on economies around the world. 

The People’s Bank of China’s daily fix of the yuan midpoint will also be closely monitored for hints on where the currency could go next. China’s central bank allows the exchange rate to rise or fall 2% from that number in what is also known as the onshore yuan.

The Chinese yuan was under the spotlight earlier this week after it crossed a closely-watched 7 barrier against the dollar, leading the U.S. Treasury Department to label China a currency manipulator.

The offshore yuan, used by foreign investors and banks, last traded at 7.0831 against the greenback.

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Asia-Pacific Market Indexes Chart

In market action overnight on Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 22.45 points lower at 26,007.07 while the Nasdaq Composite added 0.4% to finish its trading day at 7,862.83. The S&P 500 closed 0.1% higher at 2,883.98.

Shares stateside mostly recovered from an earlier slip that saw the Dow plunging more than 500 points at one point as the closely watched 10-year Treasury yield briefly hit a 2016 low as it dipped below 1.6%. It was last at 1.7207%.

Gold prices also traded above $1,500 for the first time since 2013 on Wednesday.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 97.544 after seeing lows below 97.5 yesterday.

The Japanese yen traded at 106.22 against the dollar after touching levels below 106 in the previous session. The Australian dollar was at $0.6765 after its rise from lows below $0.672 yesterday.

Here is a look at some of the data in the day ahead:

  • China: Trade data at 11:00 a.m HK/SIN
  • Philippines: Central bank rate decision at 4:00 p.m. HK/SIN
  • Japan earnings: Shiseido, Yamaha Motor, Rakuten
  • Hong Kong earnings: SMIC, MTR

— CNBC’s Fred Imbert contributed to this report.



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