HONG KONG- Asian markets were mixed in edgy trade Thursday as Western and Russian leaders try to broker a deal to end the Ukraine crisis, while Wall Street provided a tepid lead following an anemic batch of economic data.
As the threat of an armed conflict in Eastern Europe has subsided, investor confidence in higher risk assets has slowly returned, sending the safe-haven yen falling against the dollar and euro.
Tokyo rose 0.30 percent and Hong Kong added 0.63 percent, while Shanghai dipped 0.49 percent, Sydney shed 0.10 percent and Seoul was flat.
US Secretary of State John Kerry met Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Paris on Wednesday for the first time since the crisis began, and while no breakthrough was made both sides will try again later Thursday in Rome.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel also spoke on the phone about “possible scenarios for international co-operation” to end a confrontation that has raised fears of all-out conflict and sent global markets tumbling at the start of the week.
“With the crisis situation in Ukraine appearing to settle down for the time being, there’s a dearth of incentives on which to trade,” said SMBC Nikko Securities general manager of equities Hiroichi Nishi.
With diplomacy now taking center stage over Ukraine, traders were able to focus again on economics. On Wall Street, the three main indexes ended mixed following below-forecast jobs data.
The Dow slipped 0.22 percent, the S&P 500 was flat and the Nasdaq added 0.14 percent.