Asian markets settle after rallying on US-China trade hopes

SINGAPORE (AP) — Asian markets were mixed yesterday after the United States (US) and Chinese officials wrapped up three days of trade talks in Beijing without significant breakthroughs.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan’s Nikkei 225 index, which closed up 1.1 per cent on Wednesday, retreated 1.3 per cent to 20,157.72. The Kospi in South Korea dropped 0.1 per cent to 2,063.15. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng recovered to edge 0.1 per cent higher, to 26,492.61, while the Shanghai Composite index was flat at 2,545.37. Australia’s S&P ASX 200 rebounded to gain 0.3 per cent to 5,795.30. Shares fell in Taiwan but rose in Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines.

WALL STREET: Stocks rose for the fourth consecutive session after American and Chinese negotiators extended their talks to a third day. Traders took this as a positive sign, but a standoff over a partial US government shutdown that appears far from being resolved limited gains. The S&P 500 index added 0.4 per cent to 2,584.96. The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 0.4 per cent to 23,879.12 and the Nasdaq composite was 0.9 per cent higher at 6,957.08. The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks rose 0.9 per cent to 1,438.81.

US-CHINA TALKS: Official statements released after the talks, which lasted a day longer than planned, did not indicate if progress was made on a tariffs battle that has shaken financial markets. China’s Ministry of Commerce said there were “detailed exchanges” and both sides would “maintain close contact,” without offering specifics. A statement from the Office of the US Trade Representative said negotiators will “report back to receive guidance on the next steps.”

The talks come after US President Donald Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping met and agreed to hold off on more tariffs for 90 days, on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Argentina last month. Investors are hopeful that more and higher-level negotiations will follow.

ANALYST’S TAKE: “While there was agreement on less thorny issues such as agriculture and energy, US demands for verification and enforceable targets on intellectual property rights, transfer of technologies and non-tariff barriers may not be that easily addressed,” DBS Group Research strategists Eugene Leow and Neel Gopalakrishnan said in a commentary.

ENERGY: Oil prices fell back after hitting their highest levels in almost a month. US crude, which has jumped 15 per cent in 2019, dropped 63 cents to USD51.72 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It surged 5.2 per cent to USD52.36 per barrel on Wednesday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gave up 62 cents to USD60.82 per barrel. It climbed 4.6 per cent to USD61.44 a barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar strengthened to 107.92 yen from 108.15 yen late Wednesday. The euro rose to USD1.1559 from USD1.1543.

A currency trader watches monitors at the foreign exchange dealing room of the KEB Hana Bank headquarters in Seoul, South Korea. – AP