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Asian stocks trade mixed as US-China sign phase-one deal

  • Asian stocks are trading tentatively despite optimism on the trade front. 
  • The US-China deal was likely priced in advance. 
  • The focus now is on the US Retail Sales data, due for release at 13:30 GMT .

Asian equities are trading mixed even though the US stocks closed at record highs in the overnight trade on the conclusion of the US-China phase one deal.

At press time, Japan's Nikkei index is trading flat and China's Shanghai Composite index is reporting a 0.30% loss. Meanwhile, stocks in Hong Kong, Australia, and South Korea are flashing moderate gains.

The futures on the S&P 500 are also lacking a clear directional bias. The index notched a fresh record high Wednesday on trade optimism.

The US and China signed the phase-one trade deal on Wednesday. President Donald Trump said the "landmark” deal would benefit American farmers. Critics, however, believe the US gave away too much in the deal by including an option for China to quit the agreement should the US re-impose tariffs.

Nevertheless, the much-awaited trade truce has been reached. Even so, the Asian markets are struggling to rally strongly, possibly because the deal was priced in advance. "Given the amount of speculation by the markets and commentary by officials ahead of Wednesday’s signing, it is unsurprising markets have not rallied too strongly upon final signing,” said Hannah Anderson, a strategist at JPMorgan Asset Management, according to Bloomberg.

Focus on US data

With the deal behind us, the focus is likely to shift to the US and global macro data releases.

The data, due at 13:30 GMT, is expected to show consumer spending, as represented by Retail Sales, rose 0.3% in December, following a 0.2% rise in November.

An above-forecast data would reinforce expectations for a stronger economic performance in 2020 and will likely bode well for equities.

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