US-CHINA TRADE: China announced its economy czar, Vice Premier Liu He, will go to Washington for talks Jan. 30-31 aimed at ending the tariff war sparked by U.S. complaints about Beijing's technology ambitions. Business groups and economists were looking for Liu and his American counterpart, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, to take part in talks as a sign lower-level negotiations earlier in Beijing made progress. The Wall Street Journal reported Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was willing to roll back U.S. tariff hikes on Chinese goods, though it said Lighthizer and other officials opposed that.
WALL STREET: Stocks climbed on trade optimism following the report Mnuchin might support a cut in U.S. penalty duties on Chinese imports. Technology, industrial and health care companies gained and makers of chemicals and other basic materials jumped. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 0.8 percent to 2,635.96. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.7 percent at 24,370.10. The Nasdaq composite gained 0.7 percent to 7,084.46.
ANALYST'S COMMENT: Asian markets welcome "the latest indication of further interest from the U.S. to resolve the U.S.-China trade uncertainty," said Jingyi Pan of IG in a report. "While skepticism may well persist, and worries build ahead of Chinese growth figures next week, the driving force for intraday market action belongs to trade."
JAPAN INFLATION: Inflation in December came in weaker than expected, temporarily putting the central bank farther from its target of 2 percent. Prices rose 0.3 percent, down from November's 0.8 percent, as tumbling food costs offset a rise in energy prices.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude 53 cents to $52.60 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 24 cents on Thursday to close at $52.07. Brent crude, used to price international oils, added 50 cents to $61.68 per barrel in London. It lost 14 cents the previous session to $61.18.
CURRENCY: The dollar advanced to 109.33 yen from Thursday's 109.24 yen. The euro gained to $1.1393 from $1.1388.