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Asian Equities Mixed as NAFTA Deal Looks Likely

Asian equities were mixed in morning trade - Asian equities were mixed in morning trade on Thursday while U.S. stocks hit record highs overnight as the promising NAFTA negotiations eased global trade tensions.

Canada rejoined the NAFTA negotiations on Thursday after U.S. and Mexico announced a bilateral trade deal earlier this week.

Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said the talks with the U.S. were at a “very intense moment” and that she is looking for compromises that were “win-win” for both sides.

U.S. President Donald Trump said he believed Canada “very much want to make the deal.”

“They want to be part of the deal,” Trump said of Canada. “We gave until Friday and I think we are probably on track. We’ll see what happens,” he told reporters at the White House, adding that “it probably won’t be good at all if they don’t.”

“Our officials are meeting now and will be meeting until very late tonight. Possibly they’ll be meeting all night long,” Freeland told reporters after a meeting with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. “This is a very intense moment in the negotiations and we’re trying to get a lot of things done very quickly.”

In Asia, the Shanghai Composite and the SZSE Component were 0.4% and 0.5% lower by 10:00PM ET (02:00 GMT). Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index were also down 0.3%.

"Recent NAFTA negotiations have helped clear some of the uncertainty the markets had been feeling, leading to hopes U.S.-China trade tensions will take a turn for the better," said Masahiro Ichikawa, senior strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui Asset Management.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 gained 0.2% after data from the Ministry of Economy showed the country’s retail sales rose 1.5% in July from a year earlier, compared to the general consensus of a 1.2% increase.

Elsewhere, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 and South Korea’s KOSPI both traded 0.3% higher.

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