The 13th round of trade negotiations between representatives from the world's biggest two economies are set to begin Thursday in Washington. Though the mood music in the run-up to the talks has been fairly negative, investors have latched onto some reports suggesting that China is ready to back a partial deal.
"Hints of a Chinese willingness to accept a partial trade deal have bolstered European markets in morning trading, suggesting that there might be reason for optimism despite the chest-beating of the past few days," said Chris Beauchamp, Chief Market Analyst at IG.
"These discussions are being invested with so much importance that it feels as if the very future of the bull market is probably at stake. In reality, this is probably overstating the case, but it is unlikely that sentiment will improve much if the talks break down in acrimonious recriminations."
For now, European markets and Wall Street futures indicated a degree of optimism.
In Europe, Germany's DAX was up 1% at 12,086 while the CAC 40 in France rose 0.7% at 5,494. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was 0.5% higher at 7,178.
In the U.S., Dow futures and the broader S&P 500 futures were 0.8% higher.
Earlier, jitters over the global economic outlook weighed on Asian trading. The new head of the 189-nation International Monetary Fund warned the world economy is in the grips of a "synchronized global slowdown" that will yield slower growth for 90% of the world this year.
IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said that an updated IMF forecast to be released next week will show growth falling to its lowest point since the beginning of this decade.
Japan's Nikkei 225 index lost 0.6% to 21,456.38 and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong dropped 0.8% to 25,682.81. Australia's S&P ASX 200 shed 0.7% to 6,546.70. The Shanghai Composite index reversed early losses, gaining 0.4% to 2,924.86. The Sensex in India picked up 1.1% to 37,937.40, while shares in Taiwan and Southeast Asia declined. South Korean and Malaysian markets were closed for holidays.
Benchmark crude oil was up 47 cents at $53.10 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange while Brent crude oil, the international standard, rose 57 cents to $58.81 a barrel.
The euro was up 0.2% at $1.0981 while the dollar rose 0.3% 107.37 yen.
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