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    Asian shares lower on jitters over US policy toward China

    BANGKOK (AP) — Shares were mostly lower in Asia after talk of limits on United States (US) stock listings by Chinese companies undermined optimism over progress in trade negotiations.

    Chinese manufacturing data was slightly better than analysts’ estimates, but Friday’s downbeat mood on Wall Street carried over into yesterday’s trading. Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index lost 0.6 per cent to 21,755.84 and the Shanghai Composite dropped 0.9 per cent to 2,905.19. India’s Sensex declined 0.8 per cent to 38,506.97. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 0.4 per cent to 26,056.60, while Sydney’s S&P ASX 200 gave up early gains, losing 0.4 per cent to 6,688.30. The Kospi in South Korea advanced 0.6 per cent to 2,063.05. Shares also fell in Indonesia and Thailand.

    Hong Kong got a boost from reassuring comments by the chief executive of its monetary authority. Norman Chan Tak-lam, who is stepping down, said that despite the past several months of increasingly violent political protests, “the monetary system that means the exchange rate, the banking system and the financial system, have remained stable, and they have continued to function normally and smoothly”.

    In other upbeat news, two gauges of Chinese factory activity improved in September ahead of a round of trade talks with Washington.

    Surveys released yesterday by an industry group and a business magazine both showed improvement, though the gains were small.

    Demand for Chinese goods has been hurt by weakening domestic and global economic growth as well as US tariff hikes in a fight over trade and technology. Negotiators are due to meet next month in Washington but there has been no sign of progress toward ending the dispute.

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

    Wall Street capped a choppy week with a second straight weekly loss for the S&P 500 last Friday as worries about a potential escalation in the trade war between the US and China erased early gains.

    Technology companies led the broad slide as investors weighed a report saying the Trump administration is considering ways to limit US investments in China. Bloomberg cited unnamed people familiar with the administration’s internal discussions. Uncertainty over the long-running trade war has fuelled volatility in the market and stoked worries that the impact of tariffs and other tactics employed by the countries against each other is hampering US economic and corporate profit growth.

    The possibility that the US is weighing another way of applying pressure on China dampened investors’ already cautious optimism that the world’s two biggest economies might make progress in next week’s negotiations.

    The S&P 500 index fell 0.5 per cent last Friday to 2,961.79. The benchmark index finished the week with a one per cent loss. Even so, it remains 2.1 per cent below its all-time high set in July.

    The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 0.3 per cent to 26,820.25. The Nasdaq, which is heavily weighted with technology stocks, lost 1.1 per cent to 7,939.63. Investors also shifted money out of smaller company stocks, pulling the Russell 2000 index down 12.85 points, or 0.8 per cent, to 1,520.48.

    Benchmark crude oil fell back, losing 20 cents to USD55.71 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It lost 50 cents last Friday to USD55.91 a barrel.

    Brent crude oil, the international standard, also declined, shedding 26 cents to USD60.78 a barrel.

    The dollar slipped to 107.84 Japanese yen from 107.97 yen. The euro strengthened to USD1.0937 from USD1.0934.

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