(Bloomberg) -- Asian stocks were set for a mixed start Friday as U.S. equities struggled for traction amid lingering concern that a trade deal between American and China remains elusive. Treasuries were steady and the dollar gained.

Futures pointed to small gains for shares in Japan and Australia, while Hong Kong stocks were indicated lower. The S&P 500 spent most of the session fluctuating between gains and losses in thin trading, before edging lower at the close. News that a meeting to end the trade war with China won’t happen this month weighed on sentiment. The pound steadied after strong gains earlier in the week as Prime Minister Theresa May won the endorsement of British politicians to seek to delay Brexit day.

“Most analysts believe a China trade deal is fully priced into the markets, which can mean only one thing -- if there’s a wild card lurking, it would be the emergence of a negative surprise,” Greg Valliere, the chief U.S. policy strategist at AGF Investments, wrote in a note. “While we expect a signing ceremony by later in the spring, the idea that a final pact can be completed by the end of this month is optimistic, to say the least.”

Equity markets face a hurdle from slowing global growth as investors assess whether earnings growth can withstand the current slowdown. Figures suggesting China’s slowdown deepened in the first two months of the year added to reasons for caution following this quarter’s rebound in Asian shares. Though no changes in policy are expected from Friday’s Bank of Japan’s policy decision, traders will be parsing comments from Governor Haruhiko Kuroda for detail on what next for the central bank.

U.S. equity markets could experience higher levels of volatility on Friday with “quadruple witching”, where the expiration on stock-index futures, stock-index options, individual stock options and individual stock futures all occur.

Elsewhere, crude closed higher for a fourth straight day in New York ahead of a weekend meeting where the world’s top exporters will discuss whether to extend supply cuts.

Here are some of the key events coming up:

  • China’s National People’s Congress is set to wrap up on Friday.
  • Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda will speak on Friday, after he and his board conclude their discussions on monetary policy.

And these are the main moves in markets:


  • Futures on Japan’s Nikkei 225 rose 0.1 percent in Singapore.
  • Hang Seng futures slipped 0.3 percent.
  • Futures on S&P/ASX 200 Index added 0.3 percent.
  • The S&P 500 fell 0.1 percent.


  • The yen was steady at 111.66 per dollar.
  • The offshore yuan was steady at 6.7230 per dollar.
  • The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index advanced 0.3 percent, the first gain in a week.
  • The euro bought $1.1303.
  • The British pound was at $1.3232.


  • The yield on 10-year Treasuries rose one basis point to 2.63 percent.
  • Australia’s 10-year bond yield added one basis point to 1.98 percent.


  • The Bloomberg Commodity Index fell 0.2 percent.
  • West Texas Intermediate crude gained 0.6 percent to $58.61 a barrel.
  • Gold steadied at $1,296.28 an ounce after slumping 1 percent.

--With assistance from Vildana Hajric.

To contact the reporters on this story: Adam Haigh in Sydney at ahaigh1@bloomberg.net;Jeremy Herron in New York at jherron8@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Christopher Anstey at canstey@bloomberg.net, Cormac Mullen

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.