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Tokyo's Nikkei closes up ahead of US-China talks

Tokyo's benchmark Nikkei index closed higher on Thursday as investors awaited the start of US-China trade talks in Washington later in the day.

The Nikkei 225 index gained 0.45 percent, or 95.60 points, to end at 21,551.98, while the broader Topix index was flat, inching down 0.02 percent, or 0.28 points, to 1,581.42.

Earlier in the day, optimism that China was open to a partial trade deal receded, sending the benchmark down at the open, after a report in the South China Morning Post that US and China had made no progress on key issues in deputy-level talks.

But "the optimism on the talks' progress was back" after more positive reports followed, Okasan Online Securities said in a note.

With less than a week to go before the next round of punitive tariffs is due to hit, Beijing's top trade envoy Liu He will Thursday meet US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

Rodrigo Catril, markets strategist at National Australia Bank, warned making a partial deal might not be something to welcome long-term.

"Making a soft trade deal carries the risk of triggering a strong political backlash ahead of the US elections next year," he said in a note.

The dollar was trading at 107.51 yen against 107.49 yen in New York Wednesday afternoon.

In individual stocks trade, Asahi Kasei jumped 1.76 percent to 1,125 yen after Akira Yoshino, an honorary fellow at the chemicals company, was among Nobel Chemistry Prize laureates.

Fast Retailing, operator of the Uniqlo clothing chain, rose 0.93 percent to 61,650 yen. The company announced after the closing bell that its annual net profit grew 5.0 percent, with annual operating profit up 9.1 percent.

Nissan was up 0.45 percent to 656.5 yen while Toyota was off 0.23 percent to 7,108 yen.