Asia markets were set to trade cautiously, likely taking cues from other global markets where weak economic data, persisting trade-war fears and worries over Brexit kept investors on the sidelines.
The session in Asia follows an overnight session where U.S. stocks slipped on weak economic data while European equities traded without any real direction as investors sought guidance over Brexit negotiations.
“Markets were dominated by Brexit speculation and headlines, while US data were mixed,” Kishti Sen from ANZ Research wrote in a morning note.
“Whether a (Brexit) deal can be agreed in time is finely balanced. The most recent headlines were positive on the Irish issue, though “issues remain”. A no-deal Brexit looks to be off the table,” Sen added.
Brexit negotiations hit a wall on Wednesday, the last day of talks before an important European Union summit. The BBC cited a government source and said there will be “no deal tonight” as officials continue to work on the technical details of the negotiation in Brussels.
The deal would have to be approved by the EU, and then by the U.K. Parliament. If it is not approved by Oct. 19, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is legally obliged to ask the EU for an extension to the current departure date of Oct. 31.
The British pound traded at $1.2820 after climbing from levels below $1.2300 last week.
Elsewhere, the dollar last traded at 98.002 against a basket of its peers, dipping from levels near 98.400 reached earlier this week. The Japanese yen, which is considered a safe-haven asset, changed hands at 108.72 per dollar, weakening from around 107.400 last week, while the Australian dollar traded flat at $0.6753.