Asian shares search for direction after Trump comments on trade, North Korea

FAN Editor

Asian stocks were mixed early on Wednesday after U.S. stocks fizzled on the back of U.S. President Donald Trump’s remarks that he was “not satisfied” with the latest round of trade talks with China.

In Tokyo, Nikkei 225 eased 0.22 percent and the Topix was off by 0.09 percent. The Topix mining subindex fell 3.39 percent. The oil subindex and shippers also declined in the early going.

Meanwhile, the Kospi shed 0.08 percent in Seoul as gains in large cap technology names kept the index in positive territory despite declines seen in other major sectors. Samsung Electronics rose 2.2 percent and SK Hynix rose 3.14 percent, while steelmakers and financials slid.

Over in Sydney, the S&P/ASX 200 edged up by 0.24 percent. The materials and heavily weighted financials subindexes climbed 0.66 percent and 0.37 percent, respectively, after coming under pressure in the last session.

MSCI’s index of shares in Asia Pacific excluding Japan was higher by 0.17 percent in Asia morning trade.

The mixed session on Wednesday came after U.S. stocks finished lower despite starting the session on positive footing after China’s announcement that it would reduce tariffs on some vehicles to 15 percent from as much as 25 percent. Tariffs on certain automotive parts would also be cut.

Declines stateside came after President Donald Trump said he was “not satisfied” with bilateral trade talks with China that occurred last week, but called them a “start” to working out the U.S. trade imbalance with Beijing.

European markets, however, got a boost on Tuesday from China’s tariff reduction announcement. The pan-European Stoxx 600 rose 0.27 percent and Germany’s DAX advanced 0.71 percent as autos notched gains.

Global stock markets had been buoyed earlier in the week by fading jitters over U.S.-China trade tensions after the two sides met in Washington for talks. U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s comment that negotiations had made “very meaningful progress” saw the Dow Jones industrial average close above the 25,000 level on Monday for the first time since March.

On the geopolitical front, Trump said Tuesday there was a “substantial chance” that a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “may not work out.” Trump’s comments came as he met South Korean President Moon Jae-in ahead of a planned meeting, scheduled for June 12, with Kim.

In currencies, the dollar was slightly softer after hitting a five-month high against a basket of currencies earlier in the week. That dollar index last stood at 93.520 at 8:09 a.m. HK/SIN. Against the yen, the dollar traded at 110.76, just under the 111 handle seen earlier this week.

Here’s the economic calendar for Wednesday (all times in HK/SIN):

  • 12:00 p.m.: Malaysia April inflation
  • 1:00 p.m.: Singapore April inflation

Minutes from the Federal Reserve are expected during U.S. hours.

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