Asian shares flat as trade talks progress

Shares in Asia have remained flat in early trade while Wall Street dipped.
Shares in Asia have remained flat in early trade while Wall Street dipped.

Shares in Asia have remained flat in early trade following a fall on Wall Street, with a deteriorating global economic outlook outweighing more signs of progress in US-China trade talks.

Early in the Asian trading day, MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up less than 0.1 per cent.

Australian shares gained 0.5 per cent and the Nikkei was 0.3 per cent lower.

Investors continue to closely watch high-level talks between US and Chinese trade negotiators in Washington, with a week left before a US-imposed deadline for an agreement expires, triggering higher tariffs.

Reuters reported on Wednesday that the two sides were drafting language for six memorandums of understanding on proposed Chinese reforms, progress that had helped to lift investor sentiment.

But shares on Wall Street slumped Thursday, pulled down by new data showing weakness in US business spending plans and factory activity.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.4 per cent to 25,850.63 points, the S&P 500 lost 0.37 per cent to 2,774.28 and the Nasdaq Composite - which had climbed the previous eight sessions - dropped 0.4 per cent to 7,459.06.

The US Commerce Department said on Thursday that domestic orders for non-defence capital goods excluding aircraft, a closely-watched proxy for business spending plans, dropped 0.7 per cent.

"While global manufacturing is weak, services activity is looking more positive. But it is difficult to see manufacturing and services diverging for long," analysts at ANZ said in a morning note.

The Australian dollar rebounded after tumbling Thursday on a Reuters report that China's northern port of Dalian has placed an indefinite ban on imports of Australian coal. It was last up 0.3 per cent at $US0.7107.

The US dollar was barely changed against the yen at 110.66 , while the euro inched slightly higher to buy $US1.1340.

US crude dipped 0.25 per cent at $US56.82 a barrel.

Australian Associated Press