A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S. (Photographer: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg)  

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Stocks fluctuated for a second day, edging higher, as gains in tech shares offset concerns about U.S.-China relations. Here are some of the things people in markets are talking about.

Stocks Swing 

Asian equities look set for a mixed end to the week after U.S. stocks whipsawed Thursday, as a rally in semiconductor shares tempered concern that the U.S. and China may be further from a trade resolution than investors had hoped. Treasury bonds remained a refuge and the dollar resumed its rally. The Dow Jones and S&P 500 Index swung between gains and losses most of the day after Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said the world’s two biggest economies remain far apart on trade, while still acknowledging that there is a “fair chance” of a deal. White House economic adviser Lawrence Kudlow later said President Donald Trump is optimistic about trade talks and that the January jobs report will be up a significant amount.

‘Miles and Miles’ Apart 

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said the U.S. and China are eager to end their trade war, but the outcome will hinge on whether Beijing will deepen economic reforms and further open up its markets. Ross said negotiators are making progress on “easier” issues like how much of certain American products the Chinese will agree to buy, such as soybeans and liquefied natural gas.  Earlier in the day, Ross downplayed expectations for an end to the U.S.-China trade war, saying the world’s two largest economies are a long way from resolving their differences. “We’re miles and miles from getting a resolution,” he said in an interview on CNBC. “Trade is very complicated. There are lots and lots of issues.”

China Gives More to Wall Street 

A top Chinese regulator said more approvals will be given in the next six months to global banks seeking majority ownership in their local securities ventures, as authorities vowed to allow foreign firms greater access to its $40 trillion financial sector. “We do have a few companies in the process of applying for 51 percent,” Fang Xinghai, vice chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission, said Thursday in a Bloomberg Television interview with Haslinda Amin on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “In the next six months you will see more licenses being granted.” UBS Group AG in December became the first foreign company to win approval for a majority stake in a local securities venture under new rules as President Xi Jinping said the country was “steadily widening the opening-up” of its financial industry. Nomura Holdings Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. have also filed applications. 

Nissan CEO to ‘Pass the Baton’ 

Nissan Motor Co. Chief Executive Officer Hiroto Saikawa signaled he would be willing to step down at some point in the coming months, after he’s gotten the company back on-track following a jarring leadership crisis that’s shaken the Japanese carmaker’s alliance with France’s Renault SA. The changes at Renault, which installed Michelin chief Jean-Dominique Senardas chairman and Thierry Bollore as CEO on Thursday, open a “new chapter” in the 20-year alliance dominated by jailed car titan Carlos Ghosn, Saikawa said, shortly after the French company’s new leaders were announced. Ghosn, who has quit as chairman and chief executive officer of Renault SA, may walk away from the carmaker with millions -- even as he sits in a Tokyo prison charged with financial crimes.

U.S. Senate Extends Shutdown

The Senate blocked two rival proposals to reopen U.S. government agencies in largely partisan votes, leaving President Donald Trump and lawmakers deadlocked with the partial shutdown in its 34th day. The Senate, voting 52-44 Thursday, failed to get the 60 needed to advance a Democratic measure that would reopen agencies until Feb. 8 to allow time for talks on a border security plan. On an earlier 50-47 vote, the chamber lacked support to move forward with Trump’s plan to spend $5.7 billion on a border wall and temporarily protect some young undocumented immigrants from deportation. They were the first votes the Senate has taken on funding the government since the Dec. 22 start of the shutdown, now the longest in modern U.S. history.

What we’ve been reading

This is what caught our eye over the last 24 hours.

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