Asian stocks have made a cautious start as a deadline for new US rates on China looms amid speculation. The US president, Donald Trump's political position, could be threatened by the legal misery of two former advisers.
American and Chinese officials have met for the first time in more than two months to find a way out of their deepening trade disputes, but there is no evidence that the low-level talks will stop a new round of US rates on Thursday.
Citi said in a global economic and prospects strategic report titled "Storm Squalls" that divergence in trading strains between the United States and the various trading partners is likely to be a key driver for the markets.
"The tensions in trade have narrowed to US versus China, but there is no such thing as a bilateral trade war," he added.
"Despite recent signals that trade negotiations are resuming, we expect trade relations between the US and China to continue."
The broadest index of MSCI of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell by 0.1 percent on Thursday. The Japanese Nikkei and the Kospi index in South Korea rose by 0.2 percent each.
Australian equities were a little softer in the midst of political uncertainty about the future of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull after three senior ministers had resigned on Thursday.
The turmoil affected the Australian dollar, which lost 0.44 percent for the second consecutive day of decline.
Another point of interest for investors will be that data from Europe and the United States will be produced later in the day, while investors will assess whether the specter of a global trade war is damaging economic activity.
A Thursday survey revealed that Japanese production activity grew somewhat faster in August, as domestic demand rose, but export orders shrank, adding to concerns about increasing trade protectionism.
The Wall Street lead was mixed, while the S & P 500 was its longest bull-market spin in history. The Dow fell by 0.3 percent, the S & P was largely unchanged and the Nasdaq added 0.4 percent.
Investors are considering whether a twin political backlash to Trump would harm the Republican party's election prospects and broaden a criminal issue that has overshadowed its presidency.
Former personal lawyer Michael Cohen of Trump pleaded guilty to a series of accusations and said he acted in the direction of Trump, while his ex-campaign leader Paul Manafort was found guilty of tax and bank tax charges.
The White House pushed back vigorously against suggestions that a plea agreement that was entered into by Cohen on Tuesday was the president in a crime.
Trump was not charged and Cohen's plea agreement does not mean that the president has had anything to do with it, Secretary-General Sarah Sanders said during a briefing at the White House.
The US dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of major currencies, paused after six consecutive sessions of losses and came to the lowest level in three weeks. It was the last 0.1 percent higher at 95.27.
Forex markets hardly clouded after release of minutes from the Federal Reserve policy meeting that ended on August 1. Futures traders had a slightly higher probability that the Fed would rise twice more this year.
The euro was the last time 0.2 percent on $ US1.1571, not far from Wednesday's Wednesday profit of two weeks ago from $ US1.1623. The Japanese yen weakened 0.1 percent to 110.65 per US dollar.
In commodities, Brent crude, the international benchmark, lowered 4 US cents to $ US74.74. American crude oil won 12 US cents to $ US67.98.
American gold futures for delivery in December fell by 0.2 percent while the spot gold was slightly softer with $ US1.194.6 per ounce.