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Nikkei Markets

Asian equities flat amid conflicting reports on US-China trade talks

Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea, WH Group among gainers

HONG KONG (Nikkei Markets) -- Asian shares outside of Japan ended little changed on Thursday amid conflicting reports on the potential outcome of the U.S.-China trade talks.

The Nikkei Asia300 index edged 0.02% higher to close at 1,248.12.

It was a choppy day for Asian equities as media reports provided a disparate picture on the possible outcome of the U.S. -China trade negotiations. Regional stocks along with U.S. equity index futures came under pressure earlier in the day following a report by the South China Morning Post that deputy level talks had failed to yield any progress on critical issues and China Vice-Premier Liu He, who is leading the talks, may leave the U.S. earlier than expected.

Deputy level talks concluded yesterday ahead of the high-level negotiations that begin later today.

Asian equities and U.S. equity index futures recouped losses following a report by Bloomberg that the U.S. is considering a currency pact with China as part of a deal that will suspend next week's tariff increase on Chinese goods. The currency deal, which had previously been agreed upon before talks broke down, would be the first phase of an agreement, the report added.

Stephen Innes, a market strategist at AxiTrader, said that while a partial deal will be viewed favorably, how risk appetite shapes up will be dependent upon the details. A deal which will involve rolling back of the existing tariffs will be "substantial," he added.

The offshore Chinese yuan whipsawed amid the differing reports. It added 0.2% at 7.1196 to the dollar, after having fallen to below 7.1650 to a dollar. The S&P 500 Index futures, which were at one point slipped more than 1% after the SCMP report, were last up 0.9%.

A gauge of Chinese companies listed in Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Enterprises Index, closed 0.5% higher after falling earlier. Meat producer WH Group, which has significant business interest in the U.S., advanced 4%.

China Vanke closed 0.7% lower after advancing earlier. The property developer said contracted sales last month were up 13.5% from a year earlier.

Bharti Airtel advanced 5.1% and Vodafone Idea jumped 5.8%. Reliance Jio Infocomm, the telecom arm of Reliance Industries, said it will immediately begin charging for outgoing calls made to other networks. Edelweiss Securities said that the price hike, prima facie, is positive for the Indian telecom industry considering that it enables other operators to raise tariffs too. Shares of Reliance Industries rose 2.8%.

AirAsia Group declined 2.9%. The Philippines AirAsia chairman said the company is postponing its initial public offering plan to next year or 2021.

Samsung Heavy Industries edged 0.1% lower. The company reported it received an order worth 485 billion South Korean won ($404 million) to build two LNG carriers.

--Nimesh Vora

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