The United States and China have started to outline commitments in principle on the stickiest issues in their trade dispute, marking the most significant progress yet towards ending a seven-month trade war, according to sources familiar with the negotiations.
"We remain cautiously optimistic on the current Sino-U.S. trade situation, as there is still a possibility of the talks ending up in failure, as the March 1 deadline has not been officially extended yet," a note from Singapore based Phillip Futures said.
China, the region's biggest trade partner, is looking at a 25 percent tariff on $200 billion worth of goods, rising from the current 10 percent if the world's biggest economies do not iron out a deal by March 1.
Vietnam index rose to an over four-month closing high, leading gains in the region with real estate stocks boosting the index. Index heavyweights Vinhomes JSC and Vietnam Dairy Products JSC rose 7 percent and 3.9 percent, respectively.
The Indonesian benchmark rose 0.4 percent on the back of financial and energy stocks, with Bank Mandiri Tbk PT rising 3.2 percent and Perusahaan Gas Negara (Persero) Tbk PT gaining 6 percent.
Indonesia's central bank kept its benchmark interest rate unchanged on Thursday, as expected, reiterating that its main objective remained preserving financial stability and reducing the current account deficit.
The Malaysian index ended 0.3 percent higher, posting its fourth consecutive gain, with index heavyweights Tenaga Nasional Bhd and Cimb Group Holdings Bhd rising 0.9 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively.
Meanwhile, the Philippine benchmark slipped marginally lower, dragged heavily by industrials. Aboitiz Equity Ventures Inc dropped 2.3 percent, while SM Prime Holdings Inc shed 1 percent.
"I think this is just some sort of correction in the market because Philippines rallied yesterday. This slowdown right now is probably due to a bit of stagnation in foreign inflows," said Miguel Ong, an analyst at AP Securities.
(Reporting by Shreya Mariam Job in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich)
By Shreya Mariam Job