Asian stocks set to edge higher

Employees work at the Tokyo Stock Exchange in Japan. (Bloomberg pic)

SYDNEY: Asian stocks were set for modest gains after their US counterparts edged higher as investors awaited signs of progress on trade ahead. Treasuries dropped alongside the dollar, while oil hit a five-month high.

Futures were slightly higher in Tokyo, Sydney and Hong Kong after the S&P 500 eked out a gain in thin volumes, rising to just over a percent from its all-time high.

Investors are scrambling for fresh catalysts to take a global equity rally further after trade talks ended last week in Washington without any timetable for an agreement.

Crude rose for a second day as an escalation of fighting in Opec producer Libya overshadowed the biggest increase in US active rigs since May.

Following a stellar first quarter across many asset classes, investors are assessing prospects for further gains as the US and China seek to come to a final agreement on trade and earnings season gets underway.

Despite a lack of details emerging from last week’s discussions, Trump economic adviser Larry Kudlow said the two sides are closer to a deal, and that top-tier officials would be talking this week.

Elsewhere, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan cited “widespread irregularities” in local elections in Istanbul, sending the lira lower.