KEEPING SCORE: Hong Kong's Hang Seng index lost 0.3 percent to 27,857.13 while the Shanghai Composite index jumped 1 percent to 2,609.95. Japan's Nikkei 225 index rose 0.1 percent to 20,788.39 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 was down 0.1 percent at 2,202.39. Australia's S&P ASX 200 was less than 0.1 percent lower at 5,862.80. Shares rebounded in the Philippines but fell in Singapore and Malaysia. Markets in Taiwan were closed.
WALL STREET: Corporate earnings helped U.S. indexes seal a strong performance in January. Facebook reported 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. Trump said China has agreed to buy more American soybeans, but he expects to meet Xi 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 suggested 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 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.
ANALYST'S TAKE: "The terrible decline in the Caixin PMI index ... shows just how important it is for China and the U.S. to secure a trade deal. If nothing else, a deal should prevent the near-term imposition of higher tariffs," Robert Carnell of ING Bank said in commentary.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude dropped 6 cents to $53.73 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 2 cents to $60.86 per barrel. The contract dropped 70 cents to $60.84 per barrel in London.
CURRENCIES: The dollar weakened to 108.88 yen from 108.89 yen late Thursday. The euro eased to $1.1440 from $1.1445.