Asian Markets Modestly Higher Amid Cautious Trades

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Asian stock markets are mostly higher on Friday with modest gains as investors kept a cautious watch on the second round of trade talks between the U.S. and China. Blaming the trade policies of previous administrations, U.S. President Donald Trump said that China has become "very spoiled" and expressed doubts about whether the trade talks would be successful.

The Australian market is edging higher in choppy trade as a surge in shares of vaccine maker CSL and rising energy stocks helped offset the negative cues overnight from Wall Street.

In late-morning trades, the S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 2.90 points or 0.05 percent to 6,097.20, off a high of 6,110.60 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 3.10 points or 0.05 percent to 6,200.30.

Oil stocks are slightly higher after crude oil prices pared initial gains and ended flat overnight. Woodside Petroleum is adding 0.1 percent, while Santos and Oil Search are up 0.2 percent each.

CSL has raised its full-year outlook on strong sales of products, including its Seqirus flu vaccine in the northern hemisphere. The vaccine and blood products supplier's shares are gaining almost 5 percent.

Shares of Godfreys Group are gaining more than 8 percent after John Johnston, the vacuum cleaner retailer's co-founder, increased his all-cash bid for the struggling company to A$13.7 million from A$13.1 million.

In the banking space, Westpac, Commonwealth Bank and National Australia Bank are lower in a range of 0.2 percent to 0.5 percent.

ANZ Banking is adding 0.3 percent after the lender said it has agreed to sell its majority stake in Cambodia's ANZ Royal Bank to Japanese financial house J Trust, as it continues to divest assets in Asia.

In the mining sector, BHP Billiton is declining almost 1 percent, Rio Tinto is down more than 1 percent and Fortescue Metals is lower by 0.3 percent.

Gold miner Evolution Mining is losing 0.2 percent and Newcrest Mining is declining 0.5 percent after gold prices edged lower.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is lower against the U.S. dollar on Friday. The local unit was trading at US$0.7507, down from US$0.7534 on Thursday.

The Japanese market is rising as investors shrugged off the negative cues overnight from Wall Street and as a weaker yen lifted shares of exporters. Meanwhile, data released today showed that Japan's core inflation rate in April slowed from the previous month and also missed expectations.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is adding 77.20 points or 0.34 percent to 22,915.57, off a high of 22,954.19 earlier.

The major exporters are advancing on a weaker yen. Sony, Canon, Mitsubishi Electric and Panasonic are higher in a range of 0.2 percent to 0.5 percent.

Automaker Toyota is rising 0.4 percent and Honda is advancing more than 1 percent. In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is declining 0.6 percent and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is edging down by less than 0.1 percent.

Among oil stocks, Inpex is higher by more than 2 percent and Japan Petroleum Exploration is gaining more than 3 percent after crude oil prices rose overnight before paring gains to end flat.

In the tech space, Advantest is declining 1 percent, while Kyocera is adding 0.4 percent and Alps Electric is up 0.2 percent.

Among the market's best performers, Chiyoda Corp., Eisai Co., Suzuki Motor and Mitsui Mining & Smelting are all higher by more than 3 percent each.

On the flip side, Takara Holdings is declining more than 4 percent, while Kajima Corp. and Screen Holdings are down more than 2 percent each.

In economic news, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications said that overall nationwide consumer prices in Japan were up just 0.6 percent on year in April. That was shy of expectations for a gain of 0.7 percent and was down sharply from 1.1 percent in March.

Core CPI was up 0.7 percent on year, beneath forecasts for 0.8 percent and down from 0.9 percent in the previous month.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the upper 110 yen-range on Friday.

Elsewhere in Asia, Shanghai, South Korea, New Zealand, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Taiwan are also higher, while Singapore and Indonesia are modestly lower.

On Wall Street, stocks closed modestly lower on Thursday in choppy trading as traders expressed some uncertainty about the second round of trade talks between the U.S. and China.

The Dow dipped 54.95 points or 0.2 percent to 24,713.98, the Nasdaq slipped 15.82 points or 0.2 percent to 7,382.47 and the S&P 500 edged down 2.33 points or 0.1 percent to 2,720.13.

Meanwhile, the major European markets all moved to the upside on Thursday. While the French CAC 40 Index jumped by 1 percent, the German DAX Index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index advanced by 0.9 percent and 0.7 percent, respectively.

Crude oil futures pared initial gains to end flat on Thursday. WTI crude for June delivery ended the day unchanged at $71.49 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.