U.S. President Donald Trump, left, waves as First Lady Melania Trump stands after the departure of Ivan Duque, Colombia’s president, not pictured, at the White House in Washington. (Photographer: Joshua Roberts/Bloomberg) 

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U.S. stocks gained for a fourth straight session as optimism over trade negotiations outweighed concerns about a potential new law that could curb company share buybacks. Here are some of the things people in markets are talking about.

Trump Says Trade Talks Going “Very Well” 

President Donald Trump said talks to resolve the U.S. trade war with China are making good progress. “I think it’s going along very well,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office on Wednesday. “They’re showing us tremendous respect.” Negotiators from the two countries began their latest round of talks this week ahead of the March 1 deadline for additional U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods. Trump has threatened to more than double the rate of duties on $200 billion in Chinese imports. Trump said Tuesday said he’s open to extending a March 1 deadline if the two sides are near an agreement.

U.S. Stocks Gain

Asian shares looked set for a mixed open  after U.S. equities put in their fourth straight session of gains. Optimism over trade negotiations countered some of the jitters that Senator Marco Rubio triggered when he announced a bill to tax buybacks on equal footing with dividends. Rubio’s tweet Wednesday about his buyback proposal slowed an advance in the S&P 500 Index, but the benchmark still finished higher, even after Netflix dragged on the communication-services sector late in the day. The dollar gained and Treasuries edged lower as data showed U.S. inflation remained contained. Also buoying stocks was news that Trump is  closer to accepting a border spending deal, averting another government shutdown.

Malaysia Won't Compromise in 1MDB Talks

Anwar Ibrahim, head of Malaysia’s ruling party, said the nation “ will not compromise” in its talks with Goldman Sachs Group Inc. over the 1MDB scandal, and the bank “must bear responsibility.” The nation has a responsibility to uncover any crimes the investment bank may have committed, Anwar said Wednesday in an interview with Bloomberg Television. He said he’s not sure whether Malaysia can get the $7.5 billion it’s seeking from Goldman as compensation for the scandal.

Yang Versus Pence in Europe 

The U.S. and China are sending top-level hawks to Europe for what’s shaping up as a showdown between the two powers at a key security conference as they vie for influence and technological dominance in one of the world’s richest markets. Politburo member Yang Jiechi will be the most senior Chinese official to attend Friday’s Munich Security Conference since it began in 1963. He’ll head the largest-ever delegation to what is - in essence - an annual get together of the U.S.-led transatlantic defense community. Yang, a former ambassador to the U.S., is known for delivering diatribes on the status of Taiwan and other issues sensitive to Beijing. He is expected to push back against a U.S. campaign to exclude Chinese companies, in particular Huawei Technologies Co., from the construction of Europe’s 5G mobile networks. A bipartisan U.S. delegation headed by Vice President Mike Pence is also expected to set records for its size at Munich.

Caterpillar Sales Underscore Asia Distress

Caterpillar Inc.’s global machine sales have slowed for seven straight months, and a closer look at the numbers shows why the heavy-equipment maker has flagged a slowdown in Asia this year. Asia-Pacific sales in January slumped 4 percent from a year earlier on a three-month rolling basis, according to a filing Wednesday from the Deerfield, Illinois-based company. That marked its first contraction in the region since mid-2016, underscoring concerns over the global economic-growth outlook. Caterpillar, considered an economic bellwether, said when it reported earnings last month that it expects only “modest’’ revenue growth in 2019, fueling the biggest sell-off in its shares in more than seven years. Chief Financial Officer Andrew Bonfield said in an interview the same day that total excavator sales will “be about  flat year-on-year’’ in China.

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