Investing.com - Asian stocks were mixed in afternoon trade on Thursday as traders waited for further news on the latest Sino-U.S. trade negotiations.
Chinese equities outperformed their regional peers after official data showed better-than-expected trade figures for January.
Exports unexpectedly grew 9.1% in January from a year earlier, beating the expectation of a 3.2% drop, data from China’s General Administration of Customs showed.
Imports also only fell 1.5%, much less than the expected 10% fall and narrowing from December’s 7.6% drop.
That left the country with a trade surplus of $39.16 billion for the month, better than forecasts of $33.5 billion.
The Shanghai Composite and the Shenzhen Component opened near flat but gained 0.2% and 1.0% respectively by 1:30 AM ET (06:30 GMT) following the release of the data. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index was down 0.1%.
Investor sentiment were also boosted after Bloomberg reported that U.S. President Donald Trump is considering extending the March 1 deadline for a tariff increase by 60 days.
His comments contrasted with earlier comments from the White House that described March 1 as a "hard deadline."
Separately, Trump told reporters on Wednesday that trade talks are making good progress. “I think it’s going along very well,” said Trump. “They’re showing us tremendous respect.”
Chinese President Xi Jinping is scheduled to meet US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in Beijing on Friday, the South China Morning Post reported, citing unidentified people.
"Investors are once again cautiously optimistic that progress will be made and realistically an extension of the tariff deadline will be seen as a good result," said Nick Twidale, chief operating officer at Rakuten Securities, in a Reuters report.
"Longer term, only evidence of a solid deal going forward will dispel the investor caution and global growth fears that have been such a feature over the last year," Twidale added.
Meanwhile, Japan’s Nikkei 225 traded near flat after government data showed earlier in the day that the country's gross domestic product grew at an annualised rate of 1.4% in the October to December period last year.
The 1.4% expansion is in line with analysts’ expectation and followed a revised 2.6% annualised contraction in the July-September period.
The data also showed real exports rose 0.9% in October-December from the previous quarter, which was the fastest gain in a year.
Elsewhere, South Korea’s KOSPI gained 0.4%, while Australia ASX 200 edged down 0.1%.