Asian Markets Finish Mixed ahead of US-China Talks

August 21, 2018

By Investors Hub

Asian stocks ended mixed on Tuesday after U.S. President Donald Trump said he doesn’t expect much progress from trade talks with China this week in Washington.

Trump also accused China and Europe of manipulating their currencies and said he was “not thrilled” with the Federal Reserve for raising interest rates.

His comments dented some of the market optimism ahead of lower-level trade talks between the U.S. and China starting later today.

Investors also looked ahead to the release of the FOMC meeting minutes on Wednesday and a meeting of central bankers at the Kansas City Fed’s Jackson Hole symposium later this week.

Chinese shares posted strong gains as consumer and healthcare firms attracted bargain hunters after recent heavy losses.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index jumped 35.36 points or 1.3 percent to 2,733.83, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index rose 154.77 points or 0.6 percent to 27,752.79.

Japanese shares ended little changed with a positive bias and the yen was flat as investors waited for the outcome of trade talks between the U.S. and China.

The Nikkei 225 Index finished marginally higher at 22,219.73, while the broader Topix index shed 0.4 percent to close at 1,685.42. Shipping firms, electronics makers and auto companies were among the prominent decliners.

Australian shares tumbled, with material stocks pacing the declines after BHP Billiton’s full-year underlying profit came in below analysts’ estimates.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index slumped 60.60 points or 1 percent to 6,284.40, while the broader All Ordinaries Index ended down 52.10 points or 0.8 percent at 6,383.

BHP Billiton declined 1.9 percent. After reporting a 33 percent rise in full-year underlying profit, the company said it was “a little more apprehensive” on the short-term outlook. Shares of rival Rio Tinto shed half a percent.

Energy stocks also fell broadly, with Oil Search losing 2.4 percent after it reported a near 40 percent fall in half-year profit, hurt by higher costs and lower output.

The big four banks fell 1-2 percent. Woolworths Group, Australia’s biggest grocer, gave up 2.4 percent to extend Monday’s losses after reporting a “painful” sales slowdown due to the plastic bag ban.

On the economic front, minutes from the Reserve Bank of Australia’s August 7 meeting revealed today that members of the monetary policy board were satisfied with the pace of expansion in the global economy.

However, the members said that erratic United States trade policies represented a major downside risk.

Dipo Olowookere

Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan.

Mr Olowookere can be reached via [email protected]

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