By Daniel Leussink
TOKYO (Reuters) - Asian shares began cautiously on Thursday, struggling to rise after a multi-day rally as markets await more news on U.S.-China trade talks that have raised hopes of a deal to avert an all-out trade war.
Australian shares <.AXJO> were down 0.2 percent, while Japan's Nikkei <.N225> eased 1.2 percent.
Wall Street's S&P 500 <.SPX> rose 0.41 percent on Wednesday, extending its gains from 20-month lows touched around Christmas to more than 10 percent.
Delegations from China and the United States ended three days of trade talks in Beijing on Wednesday in the first face-to-face negotiations since both sides agreed a 90-day truce in a trade war that has disrupted the flow of hundreds of billions of dollars of goods.
There were few concrete details on the meetings in Beijing, which were not at a ministerial level, so were not expected to produce a deal to end the trade war.
A multi-day rally in risk assets continued overnight after minutes from the Fed's December meeting showed a range of Fed policymakers said last month they could be patient about future interest rate increases and a few did not support the central bank's rate increase that month.
"Dovish Fed minutes and positive developments out from the U.S.-China trade talks will likely keep the risk rally going although some market players may opt to book gains and to wait for fresh leads," ING economists said in a note to clients.
A clutch of Fed officials said on Wednesday they will wait to deliver more interest rate hikes so the central bank can further assess growing risks to an otherwise solid U.S. economic outlook.
"The financial markets had been pushing the Federal Reserve to change their tune," said Chris Weston, Melbourne-based head of research at foreign exchange brokerage Pepperstone.
"We've got that situation played out. The markets have had their day, they have pushed the Federal Reserve to work towards a sort of concerted patience stance. That has all happened. Now we've got back to an equilibrium point."
E-Mini futures for the S&P 500
OIL JUMPS, DOLLAR PRESSURED
Oil also caught investors' attention after U.S.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures on Wednesday gained almost 5.2 percent, while Brent crude futures were up more than 4.6 percent. The sharp gains extended a rally that has pushed futures up about 14 percent this year.
U.S. crude was last trading 0.55 percent lower at $52.03 a barrel.
If U.S. crude futures can break through the $55 level, "you're going to see real yields probably lower. That's really good for the cost of money and taking some further headwinds out of the U.S. dollar," he said.
U.S. Treasury yields
The dollar remained on the defensive after hitting its lowest level since mid-October amid signs Fed policymakers are becoming more cautious about future rate hikes and as investors unwound safe-haven bets due to optimism over the trade talks.
The greenback was down nearly 0.2 percent against the euro
Against a basket of six major rivals, the dollar was 0.1 percent lower after falling as low as 95.116 <.DXY>, its lowest since Oct. 17, during the previous session.
In commodity markets, spot gold
(Reporting by Daniel Leussink; editing by Richard Pullin)
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)