Wall Street opens flat with focus on U.S.-China trade talks

Stocks skid as US raises tensions ahead of China talks

This comes as the US-China trade talks enter a new round of negotiations in Washington.

Without significant progress, Trump is set to increase the tariff rate on $250bn worth of Chinese goods to 30 percent from 25 percent next Tuesday.

China's vice-premier, Liu He, is leading the delegation in negotiations with the USA trade representative, Robert Lighthizer, and the treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin.

President Donald Trump announced Thursday he will meet with China's top trade envoy as the two sides pursue fraught negotiations that this week appeared headed for a dead end.

Stock markets have been rankled in recent weeks by weak economic indicators showing a contraction in US manufacturing and a bleak reading on business activity, bolstering bets of another interest rate cut by the Federal Reserve to combat a slowdown.

The 15-month-old trade war between Washington and Beijing is dragging down the global economy and threatening to upend decades-old trade systems.

Australian shares are expected to rise modestly due to what investors perceived to be positive signals from high-level US-China trade talks.

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"Big day of negotiations with China".

The report cites an official with direct knowledge of talks, saying that China is still open to agreeing a partial trade deal with the United States despite the events that has transpired this week.

Washington accuses China of attempting to dominate global industry through massive state intervention in markets, theft of intellectual property, hacking and subsidies, accusations shared by Europe and Japan.

Speaking to reporters in Washington, Trump said "If we can make a deal, we're going to make a deal, there's a really good chance".

Markets over the prior 24 hours had pinned their hopes on media reports that Beijing will propose a partial trade deal to prevent further escalation.

China this year balked at Trump's demands for a profound transformation to the way it manages its economy and analysts say Beijing is unlikely to adopt economic reforms that could undermine the Communist Party's political power. "In my opinion, China wants to make a deal more than I do", he added.

A senior U.S. Chamber of Commerce official said U.S. and Chinese negotiators were working towards an "early harvest" of confidence-building agreements, including one to avoid currency manipulation.

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