Sydney: Asian stocks looked set to round out the month in mixed fashion as investors await a crucial meeting between the U.S. and Chinese presidents with the course of the trade war at stake. Benchmark Treasury yields held near the lower since September. Shares edged higher in Tokyo, slipped in Seoul and slumped in Sydney. The S&P 500’s rally faded late in the day on Thursday. Doubts remain about prospects for Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping to agree to a thaw in bilateral relations. The 10-year Treasury yield was steady after briefly dipping below 3 percent on Thursday. The yuan edged down with the Aussie dollar after data showed China’s economy remains in a weak patch.

“I wouldn’t be surprised at the end of this weekend if the U.S. and China didn’t announce a concord that basically sat down a path to help resolve the trade frictions," Scott Minerd, chief investment officer at Guggenheim Partners, told Bloomberg TV in Tokyo. “I don’t think that out of the meeting there’s going to come much substance, but there will be a sort of set of principles that will be established to start the process of bringing an end to the trade war." His firm manages about $265 billion.

Trump said he’s very close to “doing something" with China. American and Chinese officials have been working for weeks on the contours of a possible deal and those discussions have centered on the possibility of a truce in which the U.S. would delay ramping up tariffs on China in exchange for Chinese concessions, according to people familiar with the matter. The latest twist in Robert Mueller’s investigation threatened to distract Trump after his ex-lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to new crimes related to business dealings in Russia.

The first official gauge of China’s economy in November showed manufacturing activity continued to worsen, indicating the authorities will need to keep using stimulus measures as economic growth slows. Overnight in the U.S., minutes from the Federal Reserve’s November policy meeting showed the central bank preparing for a more flexible path in 2019.

Elsewhere, Korea’s won retreated amid speculation Friday’s interest rate increase won’t be followed up with another anytime soon. The pound remained under pressure after U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May warned of the prospect of a “no deal" Brexit. Shares in Deutsche Bank AG slid after its headquarters were searched in a money laundering probe.

Japan’s Topix index rose 0.1 percent as of 10:30 a.m. in Tokyo. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 0.2 percent. The Shanghai Composite slid 0.1 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index fell 0.9 percent. Futures on the S&P 500 Index dropped 0.2 percent after the underlying gauge closed down 0.2 percent on Thursday.

The yen added 0.1 percent to 113.38 per dollar. The offshore yuan slipped 0.1 percent to 6.9423 per dollar. The euro bought $1.1387. The pound slid 0.1 percent to $1.2777.

The yield on 10-year Treasuries was flat at 3.02 percent. Australia’s 10-year bond yield was at 2.59 percent.

West Texas Intermediate crude slipped 0.2 percent to $51.34 a barrel. Gold held at $1,224.60 an ounce. The Bloomberg Commodity Index climbed 0.2 percent.

(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)