Global stock markets struggled for direction on Thursday with investors cautious as they sifted through conflicting reports about upcoming China-US trade talks.

Hong Kong, Tokyo and Shanghai rose on tentative hopes of a breakthrough, while European markets were mixed, and Wall Street also trod water.

On Wall Street, the DJIA index was lower at the opening bell in “choppy”: trading, said analysts at Charles Schwab.

Investors have been broadly upbeat in recent weeks that the meeting in Washington between top-level representatives would see at least some progress.

However, with the much anticipated gathering due to start within hours, Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post reported pre-meeting discussions had not made any progress on key areas such as forced technology transfers, and that the meet would be cut in half to just one day.

Oil prices extended yesterday’s losses following data showing a bigger-than-forecast pick-up in US inventories that reinforced worries about the impact on demand from a global slowdown and trade frictions.

The data reversed a rally of more than one percent in the commodity that came after Turkey launched an offensive against Kurdish militants in northern Syria. There was little major impact from the unrest in Ecuador that has hit the country’s production.