Investors were encouraged by a Bloomberg News report Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer will lead a U.S. delegation to Shanghai for talks. That would be the first face-to-face meeting since Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping agreed in June to resume negotiations aimed at ending a bruising tariff war over U.S. complaints about Chinese technology ambitions.
Markets have welcomed any sign of possible progress on trade despite warnings the U.S.-Chinese truce is fragile because the two sides still are separated by the same disputes that caused talks to founder in May. Those include U.S. restrictions on technology sales to Chinese tech giant Huawei.
"While the resumption of trade talks appears to mitigate any near-term deterioration in US-China tensions, prudent investors will not get carried away, seeing as a meaningful deal still seems a long way off," said Han Tan of FXTM in a report.
The Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.8% to 2,923.75 and Tokyo's Nikkei 225 climbed 0.4% to 21,693.89. Hong Kong's Hang Seng advanced 0.7% to 28,660.57 and Seoul's Kospi was 0.9% lower at 2,083.29. India's Sensex lost 0.7% to 37730.52.
Sydney's S&P-ASX 200 gained 0.7% to 6,772.20. New Zealand and Taiwan declined while Southeast Asian markets were mixed. Investors also watched how the selection of a new British prime minister, Boris Johnson, will affect his country's withdrawal from the European Union, originally scheduled for March.
Johnson promised to "deliver Brexit" after his predecessor, Theresa May, resigned following parliament's repeated rejections of terms her government negotiated with the 28-nation trade bloc. That raises the potentially disruptive prospect of Britain leaving without first agreeing on trade and other terms with its neighbors.
"Now he just needs to get the EU to back down on issues he previously claimed were straightforward or drag Parliament out of the block kicking and screaming without a deal. Simple," said Craig Erlam of OANDA in a report.
On Wall Street, stocks were broadly higher after major companies reported solid second quarter gains. The benchmark Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 0.7% to 3,005.47. The Dow Jones Industrial Average also rose 0.7%, to 27,349.19. The Nasdaq composite rose 0.6% to 8,251.40.
The gains followed stumbles last week, extending a period of volatility as investors weigh a looming possible rate cut by the Federal Reserve as well as uncertainties over trade and the economy. Nearly 150 companies in the S&P 500 are due to report results through Friday. Analysts are expecting earnings to decline overall for the second quarter in a row.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude gained 27 cents to $57.04 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 55 cents on Wednesday to close at $56.77. Brent crude, used to price international oils, advanced 28 cents to $64.11 in London. It gained 57 cents in the previous session to $63.83.
CURRENCY: The dollar declined to 108.12 yen from Tuesday's 108.23 yen. The euro slipped to $1.1147 from $1.1150.