Asian stock markets were trading mixed on Thursday as investors awaited a slew of economic data from China. The pound gave back some of Wednesday’s surge as traders positioned for the next steps in the Brexit saga.
Shares edged higher in Hong Kong and Japan, were little changed in South Korea and fluctuated in China ahead of data including industrial production and retail sales.
The S&P 500 Index climbed to a four-month high as it held above the key 2,800 level. Helping buoy sentiment was data showing US orders for business equipment increased in January by the most in six months and a producer price index signaled modest pressure on inflation. Treasury yields steadied and the yen weakened.
The US data signaled a positive start to the year for the world’s biggest economy and little pressure on the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates. Next up comes China data that could provide clues on how the economy’s reacting to stimulus.
The ongoing Brexit drama, a cut to the UK’s growth forecast and a warning from America’s top trade negotiator that tariffs may not be rolled back are adding to an uncertain picture for global growth. The Bank of Japan starts its two-day policy decision Thursday.