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  • Asian stocks lack a clear directional bias as investors await the US fiscal stimulus. 
  • Lawmakers are under pressre to deliver stimulus with jobless claims at three-month highs.

Asian stocks are trading mixed on Friday, with investors waiting for the US Congress to approve a much-anticipated fiscal stimulus deal against the backdrop of fresh signs of labor market weakness. 

As of writing, stocks in China, Japan, Australia are down 0.4% to 0.7%, while the futures tied to the S&P 500 are trading largely unchanged on the day. Shares in New Zealand, Hong Kong, and South Korea are flashing moderate gains. 

On Thursday, the US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi cited progress toward a stimulus agreement. However, as per The New York Times, the Congressional leaders were still at odds on an economic relief plan to address the pandemic, with a bipartisan group of moderate lawmakers circulating details about their $908 billion stimulus compromise but struggling to reach agreement on crucial details.

The pressure on the policymakers to deliver stimulus has increased, with renewed signs of labor market slowdown. The data released Thursday showed the initial jobless claims rose to a three-month high of 853,000 in the week ended Dec. 5. 

The dollar fell on Thursday and is extending losses at press time. Having declined from 91.06 to 90.82 on Thursday, the dollar index is now trading at 90.65, representing a 0.20% decline on the day.