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Sensex, Nifty Seen Little Changed After Trade Data

Indian shares look set to open largely unchanged on Thursday after data showed India's merchandise exports fell for the fifth straight month.

Exports shrank 1.8 percent in December while imports declined 8.83 percent on lower oil imports, resulting in a narrower trade deficit for the month, the Trade Ministry said in a statement.

Benchmark indexes Sensex and the Nifty ended down around 0.2 percent on Wednesday after hitting record highs in the previous two sessions. The rupee settled 5 paise higher at 70.82 against the U.S. dollar.

Asian stocks remain mostly higher, gold prices held steady and the dollar softened while oil edged up on expectations for an uptick in oil demand next year.

U.S. stocks ended off their day's highs on Wednesday as Target Corp reported disappointing holiday sales and President Trump signed an initial trade deal with China.

The deal calls for China to purchase $200 billion worth of U.S. goods over the next two years, including up to $50 billion worth of agricultural products.

The deal also purportedly addresses issues such as intellectual property theft, forced technology transfers and currency manipulation by China.

In exchange, the U.S. will scrap a new round of tariffs and cut tariffs on approximately $120 billion worth of Chinese goods in half to 7.5 percent.

Trump noted a 25 percent tariff on $250 billion worth of Chinese imports will remain in place in order to give the U.S. leverage as the two countries enter into phase two negotiations.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.3 percent and the S&P 500 gained 0.2 percent to hit fresh record closing highs, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite index finished marginally higher.

European markets struggled for direction on Wednesday as investors awaited the signing of a long-expected China-U.S. trade deal.

The pan European Stoxx 600 ended little changed. The German DAX slid 0.2 percent and France's CAC 40 index edged down 0.1 percent, while the U.K.'s FTSE 100 rose 0.3 percent.

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