By Investors Hub
Asian stocks ended Wednesday’s session on a muted note despite the U.S. temporarily lifting a ban on American businesses working with Chinese telecom giant Huawei.
Markets kept an eye on the minutes of the latest Federal Reserve meeting due out later in the day as a protracted trade war threatens to depress global economic growth.
The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development has lowered the 2019 global growth outlook as escalating trade disputes hurt manufacturing and investment decisions.
In its latest Economic Outlook, the Paris-based think tank forecast 3.2 percent growth for 2019 versus 3.3 percent estimated in March.
China’s Shanghai Composite Index ended down 14.26 points or 0.5 percent at 2,891.70 as trade tensions continued to linger. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index inched up 48.70 points or 0.2 percent to 27,705.94.
In a speech in Jiangxi, Chinese President Xi Jinping called for the people to “start again” and begin a modern “long march,” in a dramatic sign that Beijing is preparing for a protracted trade war with the U.S.
Japanese shares ended largely unchanged after the New York Times reported that the Trump administration is considering placing limits on Chinese video surveillance firm Hikvision’s ability to buy U.S. technology.
Investors also reacted to mixed economic data and comments by Bank of Japan board member Yutaka Harada that monetary easing should be strengthened further without delay.
Japanese exports fell for a fifth straight month in April, in a sign of weakness in external demand. On the positive side, the country’s core private-sector machinery orders rose for the second straight month.
The Nikkei 225 Index crept up 10.92 points or 0.1 percent to 21,283.37, while the broader Topix closed 0.3 percent lower at 1,546.21.
Exporters such as Canon, Sony and Panasonic closed lower despite a weaker yen. Index heavyweights Softbank and Fanuc slid around half a percent, while Fast Retailing rose 1 percent.
Australian shares inched higher even as overall gains remained limited amid fears that a protracted trade war between the United States and China could harm demand for Australian products.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 10.60 points or 0.2 percent to 6,510.70, while the broader All Ordinaries index ended up 13.70 points or 0.2 percent at 6,598.10.
Banks ended flat to slightly lower after the country’s financial regulator said it may impose additional capital requirements on some financial institutions. Westpac Banking Corp shares climbed 1.1 percent.
Mining heavyweights BHP and Rio Tinto eked out modest gains amid record higher iron ore prices. Smaller rival Fortescue Metals Group slumped over 8 percent on going ex-dividend.
Gold miner Evolution Mining dropped 2.4 percent and Northern Star declined 1.9 percent as gold prices held near a two-week low.
Construction materials supplier James Hardie rallied 2.2 percent as Australia’s prudential regulator eased lending criteria for home loans.
Seoul stocks recovered from an early slide to end modestly higher for the day. The Kospi rose 3.61 points or 0.2 percent to 2,064.86.
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