Stocks are uneven on a mix of corporate earnings


SINGAPORE (AP) — Asian markets were mixed on Friday as trade talks ended in Washington with no deal but the promise of a second meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping. Gains were limited by a private survey showing that Chinese manufacturing slowed to the lowest level in almost three years.

KEEPING SCORE: Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index lost 0.2 percent to 27,885.90 while the Shanghai Composite index jumped 0.8 percent to 2,604.57. Japan’s Nikkei 225 index rose 0.2 percent to 20,803.38 after the country’s unemployment rate unexpectedly fell to 2.4 percent in December, from 2.5 percent the month before. South Korea’s Kospi edged 0.1 percent higher to 2,209.08. Australia’s S&P ASX 200 was flat at 5,865.30. Shares rebounded in the Philippines and were higher in Singapore and Indonesia. Markets in Taiwan were closed.

WALL STREET: Corporate earnings helped U.S. indexes seal a strong performance in January. Facebook reported that it earned $6.9 billion in the fourth quarter, 61 percent higher than a year earlier. After the close of regular trading, Amazon said its quarterly profits topped $3 billion for the first time, though its forecast for the current quarter was tepid. The S&P 500 index added 0.9 percent to 2,704.10. It rose 7.9 percent in January, its best monthly gain since October 2015. The Dow Jones Industrial Average eased 0.1 percent to 24,999.67 while the Nasdaq composite jumped 1.4 percent to 7,281.74. The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks added 0.8 percent to 1,499.42.

CHINA-U.S. TRADE: American and Chinese negotiators wrapped up two days of talks Thursday without a deal but with an upbeat outlook. U.S. President Donald Trump said China has agreed to buy more American soybeans, but he expects to meet his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping to seek agreement on other contentious issues. “There are some points we don’t agree to, but we will agree,” Trump said. “I think when Xi and I meet, every point will be agreed to.” A tariffs cease-fire between the U.S. and China is set to be lifted on March 2, and the U.S. is expected to raise import taxes from 10 percent to 25 percent for $200 billion in Chinese goods.

CHINESE MANUFACTURING: A private survey released on Friday suggested that manufacturing in China slowed in January. China’s Caixin Manufacturing PMI was 48.3 in January, down from 49.7 in December. This was its lowest reading since February 2016. Readings below 50 indicate contraction on the index’s 100-point scale. The survey said that Chinese production and new orders slipped further in January while export orders climbed, fueling fears that the world’s second largest economy was experiencing a slowdown.

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ANALYST’S TAKE: “The high-level China-U.S. trade talks did not result in any negative headlines. Expectations for a sweeping deal were low to begin with and the market is probably relieved that trade tensions are no longer escalating,” DBS Group Research strategists Neel Gopalakrishnan and Eugene Leow said in a commentary.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude gave up 8 cents to $53.71 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It lost 44 cents to settle at $53.79 per barrel on Thursday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, added 3 cents to $60.87 per barrel. The contract dropped 70 cents to $60.84 per barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar was trading at 108.85 yen, down from 108.89 yen late Thursday. The euro eased to $1.1442 from $1.1445.

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