Stocks gained after Trump, speaking to reporters Wednesday at the United Nations, said China wants "to make a deal very badly" and it "could happen sooner than you think." "Investors have been 'trade war' bearish for so long that any sliver of optimism is cheered," said Stephen Innes of AxiTrader in a report.
Tokyo's Nikkei 225 rose 0.2% to 22,069.28 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.2% to 25,985.83. Seoul's Kospi advanced 0.2% to 2,076.60, while Sydney's S&P-ASX 200 shed 0.4% to 6,682.70. Taiwan, Singapore and New Zealand retreated.
The Shanghai Composite Index sank 0.7% to 2,933.97. Chinese markets retreated as investors took profits before trading is suspended next week for the country's National Day following an extended rise in share prices, especially for tech companies.
The U.S.-Chinese dispute over Beijing's trade surplus and technology ambitions has fueled anxiety the global economy could tip into recession. Both sides have raised tariffs on billions of dollars of each other's goods, hurting factories and farmers on both sides.
Negotiators are due to meet next month in Washington for a 13th round of talks. Economists say a temporary deal is possible but a final settlement is unlikely this year. Trump signed a trade deal with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan on Wednesday that covers farm, industrial and digital trade but leaves tariffs on autos and parts intact at 2.5%.
That prompted Japanese automakers to appeal to their government to do more to support the industry. The preliminary deal caps negotiations that began last year after Trump complained about huge American trade deficit against Japan and threatened higher tariffs and other measures.
"The limited deal with Japan is enormous on two fronts. First, it suggests the President is open to an 'interim' trade deal, possibly signaling he is willing to negotiate one with China," said Innes. On Wall Street, the benchmark Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 0.6% to 2,984.87. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.6% to 26,970.71. The Nasdaq climbed 1.1% to 8,077.38.
Markets rose despite the release of a summary of a July phone call between Trump and Ukraine's president that is at the center of a congressional impeachment inquiry into the American leader. Investors "largely shrugged off Trump's impeachment proceedings," said Mizuho Bank in a report.
The broader market was coming off its worst day of the month, when a weak consumer confidence report, more trade war rhetoric and the start of the impeachment inquiry rattled investors. The congressional probe might complicate White House efforts to resolve trade disputes with China and other nations.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude gained 3 cents to $56.52 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract lost 80 cents on Wednesday to close at $56.49. Brent crude, used to price international oils, shed 3 cents to $61.40 per barrel in London. The contract declined 69 cents the previous session to $61.43.
CURRENCY: The dollar declined to 107.66 yen from Wednesday's 107.75 yen. The euro gained to $1.0959 from $1.0944.