Asian Shares Mixed As Trade Fears Linger

stockmarkets aug17 20may19

Asian stocks ended mixed on Monday as trade worries persisted, offsetting a surprise election victory for Australia's pro-coal ruling coalition and upbeat Japanese GDP data.

Markets remained fragile after Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi told U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a call that negotiating on an equal footing is the only way to solve pressing trade issues.

Chinese shares closed lower as trade war fears simmered. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index dropped 11.69 points or 0.4 percent to 2,870.60, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index ended down 158.85 points or 0.6 percent at 27,787.61.

China's offshore yuan strengthened after the country's central bank said that it would maintain the stability of its yuan within a reasonable and balanced range.

Japanese shares inched higher as first quarter GDP data topped forecasts. Growth in the nation's economy unexpectedly accelerated to an annualized 2.1 percent in the first quarter, defying expectations for a 0.2 percent contraction. However, the surprise expansion was mostly caused by imports declining faster than exports.

The Nikkei 225 Index rose 51.64 points or 0.2 percent to 21,301.73, while the broader Topix index closed nearly flat at 1,554.92. Exporters edged higher as the yen weakened to a two-week low versus the dollar. Honda Motor rose 0.6 percent, Panasonic added 0.7 percent and Canon gained 1.1 percent.

Technology firms followed their U.S. peers lower, with electronics and semiconductor company Tokyo Electron tumbling by 3.1 percent.

Paper manufacturing company Hokuetsu Corp soared 9 percent after forecasting a 62.9 percent jump in operating profit for the year ending March 2020.

Australian stocks hit their highest level since December 2007 following the ruling conservative party's surprise victory in the country's federal election.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index jumped 110.80 points or 1.7 percent to 6,476.10, while the broader All Ordinaries Index surged up 1.6 percent to 6,564.70.

Financials did particularly well, with the big four banks spiking 6-9 percent. Miners and energy stocks turned in a mixed performance despite strong gains in iron ore and crude oil prices in recent sessions.

Chemicals and fertilizer manufacturer Incitec Pivot tumbled 2.7 percent after it reported a 72 percent slump in profit for the first half of the year.

South Korea's shares came off their highs to end little changed with a negative bias as foreign investors continued to offload shares for an eighth consecutive session, marking the longest selling spree since November last year.

New Zealand shares rose, led by dual-listed banks as the Liberal-National coalition's electoral win over the weekend helped remove the threat of tax changes. The benchmark S&P/NZX 50 Index gained 53.35 points or 0.5 percent to end at 10,234.15 in light trading.

The markets in Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand were closed in observance of Vesak Day.

U.S. stocks fluctuated before closing lower on Friday after CNBC reported that the next round of U.S.-China negotiations are "in flux" because it is unclear what the two sides would discuss.

While President Trump has sought to blame China for backing out of a nearly completed trade deal, a spokesperson for China's Ministry of Commerce claimed the U.S. unilaterally escalated trade disputes.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 0.4 percent, the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite tumbled 1 percent and the S&P 500 declined 0.6 percent.

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