Asia report: Markets finish mixed as fresh trade concerns emerge
Stocks in Asia finished in a mixed state on Thursday, amid market chatter that a long-anticipated trade deal between the US and China could possibly be delayed.
In Japan, the Nikkei 225 was up 0.11% at 23,330.32, as the yen weakened 0.15% against the dollar to last trade at JPY 109.14.
Of the major components on the benchmark index, fashion firm Fast Retailing was up 0.66%, while automation specialist Fanuc was down 0.12% and technology conglomerate SoftBank Group slid 2.22%.
SoftBank’s movements came after it reported its first quarterly loss in 14 years on Wednesday, while carmaker Toyota was in the green by 1.14% after its operating profit was 14% higher for the second quarter.
The broader Topix index was 0.22% higher, ending the trading day in Tokyo at 1,698.13.
On the mainland, the Shanghai Composite finished flat at 2,978.71, and the smaller, technology-heavy Shenzhen Composite rose 0.64% to 1,651.77.
South Korea’s Kospi eked out gains of 0.01% to close at 2,144.29, while the Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong was 0.57% firmer at 27,847.23.
The blue-chip technology stocks were mixed in Seoul, with Samsung Electronics down 0.75% and chipmaker SK Hynix rising 0.12%.
The ongoing US-China trade war was once again squarely in focus, as reports emerged that presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping might not meet to sign a deal until December.
CNBC cited a senior official as saying Washington and Beijing needed to agree to a venue, as well as the terms of a signing, although it was possible it could be tacked on to Trump’s visit to a NATO meeting in London at the beginning of December.
A first phase deal was expected to be signed between the two countries at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Chile later in November, but that event was cancelled amid violent political protests in the South American country.
“Whilst we noted yesterday the US appeared to have blinked, and does look prepared to reduce some tariffs and scrap some planned tariffs, demands from China to remove all tariffs in order to complete a ‘phase one’ deal would be too much,” said Markets.com chief market analyst Neil Wilson.
“The President would probably like a deal soon that he can sell to voters, whilst still looking tough.
“Backing down on all tariffs for some agricultural sales and vague commitments on IP wouldn’t achieve that.”
Oil prices were higher as the region went to bed, with Brent crude last up 1.06% at $62.40 per barrel, and West Texas Intermediate ahead 1.16% at $57.01.
In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 was 1% higher at 6,726.60, as investors in the sunburnt country digested fresh data showing a 9% month-on-month rise in the seasonally-adjusted balance on goods and services in September.
Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand’s S&P/NZX 50 was up 0.3% at 10,795.06, led higher by payment technology firm Pushpay, which was up 4% a day after swinging to a half-year profit.
The down under dollars were a mixed picture against the greenback, with the Aussie last ahead 0.16% at AUD 1.4503, while the Kiwi weakened 0.01% to NZD 1.5703.