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Nikkei Markets

Asian stocks little changed amid lack of cues

Energy companies edge higher in thin volume trading

HONG KONG (Nikkei Markets) -- Asian shares outside of Japan were little changed on Thursday in thin trading volumes with Hong Kong market remaining shut a day after Christmas.

The Nikkei Asia300 index slipped 0.03% to 1,380.24, adding to Tuesday's 0.3% decline. The losses in the last two sessions came after a more than 6% rally on the gauge this month.

With no Wall Street cues to rely upon on account of the Christmas holiday, traders were focused on U.S. President Donald Trump's comments late Tuesday that he and Chinese President Xi Jinping would have a signing ceremony for the interim trade deal.

Trump, according to Reuters, said "we'll be having a quicker signing because we want to get it done and that "the deal is done, it's just being translated right now."

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry reportedly said yesterday that the officials were in close communications for the deal's signing.

Investors have been closely following comments by officials for any indication as to when the interim trade deal would be signed between the world's two largest economies, whose prolonged dispute has roiled financial markets and hurt global economic outlook.

The deal, agreed upon earlier this month, would entail China to buy more U.S. agricultural products in return for Washington halting tariffs on more Chinese shipments.

Heavyweights on the A300 gauge struggled for direction on Thursday. Samsung Electronics added 0.73% and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing ended little changed.

Energy-related companies advanced after Brent crude climbed to a three-month high. South Korea's SK Innovation added 0.65% and Thailand's PTT Exploration and Production rose 0.4%.

Singapore's benchmark equity index gained 0.04%, tracking lenders and property developers. DBS Group Holdings and City Developments were little changed while Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp. declined 0.36%.

Data released on Thursday showed Singapore's manufacturing output fell 9.3% last month from a year ago, hurt by a sharp decline in electronics and production of chemicals and pharmaceuticals.

--Nimesh Vora

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