Asia-Pacific stocks mixed as investors await China’s trade data for December

SINGAPORE — Stocks in Asia-Pacific were mixed in Thursday morning trade as investors await the release of Chinese trade data for December.In Japan, the Nikkei 225 was fractionally higher in early trading while the Topix index hovered above the flatline. South Korea’s Kospi dipped 0.26%.Over in Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 declined 0.17%.MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan traded 0.15% lower.China’s trade data for December is expected to be out at around 11:00 a.m. HK/SIN on Thursday.On the coronavirus vaccine front, trial data published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine showed Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot Covid vaccine is safe and appears to generate a immune response in both young and elderly volunteers.J&J’s vaccine candidate, which only requires one dose, could simplify logistics for health-care providers. The two vaccines currently authorized by the Food and Drug Administration from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna require two doses about three to four weeks apart.Overnight on Wall Street, the S&P 500 rose 0.2% to close at 3,809.84 while the Nasdaq Composite gained 0.4% to close at 13,128.95. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed just 8.22 points lower at 31,060.47.The moves stateside came as turmoil in Washington continues, with the House on Wednesday impeaching U.S. President Donald Trump for inciting the attack on the U.S. Capitol last week.CurrenciesThe U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 90.355 after rising earlier from levels below 90.The Japanese yen traded at 103.81 per dollar, still stronger than levels above 104 against the greenback seen earlier in the trading week. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7746, having seen levels above $0.775 yesterday.What’s on tap:China: Trade data for December at 11:00 a.m. HK/SIN— CNBC’s Berkeley Lovelace Jr. contributed to this report.

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