• Sat. May 27th, 2023

Asian markets down on trade uncertainty, unrest hits Hong Kong

Hong Kong: Asian markets turned lower on Monday as another record close on Wall Street was overshadowed by uncertainty over the China-US trade talks, while Hong Kong was also hit by fresh protests in which at least one person was shot.

Expectations Beijing and Washington will agree a mini pact have fuelled an equity rally for the past few weeks, and hopes were given an added boost Thursday after China said the two sides had agreed to roll back some tariffs as the negotiations progress.

But the US side sent out some confusing signals after that announcement, before Donald Trump denied such an agreement, leaving investors scratching their heads.

Still, White House trade adviser Peter Navarro provided a lift to sentiment, saying Trump could postpone tariffs on Chinese goods scheduled to take effect in December. The S&P 500 and Dow both ended at fresh all-time highs.

However, Asian investors were unable to extend the winning streak.

Tokyo went into the break 0.2 percent lower and Singapore shed 0.4 percent with Seoul, Taipei and Manila also lower.

Shanghai dropped 0.9 percent, with traders keeping tabs on Alibaba´s annual “Singles´ Day” shopping frenzy, the world´s biggest 24-hour shopping event, which acts as a gauge of the country´s consumer spending.

Total gross merchandise volume settled through the company´s payments platform Alipay hit 100 billion yuan ($14.3 billion) within 63 minutes and 59 seconds, according to Alibaba — 43 minutes ahead of last year´s pace. The firm said the first $1 billion was spent in just 68 seconds.

Hong Kong sank more than two percent as the city was gripped by another wave of protests that have jammed up the transport network and led to the closure of several businesses.

At least one person was hurt after a policemen fired several shots are demonstrators, as the five-month-long unrest — which has battered the city´s image and dragged on the economy — shows no sign of letting up.

Tensions have soared in recent days following the death on Friday of a 22-year-old student who succumbed to injuries sustained from a fall in the vicinity of a police clearance operation a week earlier.

On currency markets the pound struggled to bounce back after suffering a sell-off Friday in reaction to news that Moody´s had downgraded the outlook for Britain´s debt, citing mounting policy challenges as the Brexit saga rumbles along.

– Key figures around 0230 GMT –

  • Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.2 percent at 23,343.92 (break)
  • Hong Kong – Hang Seng: DOWN 2.1 percent at 27,058.59
  • Shanghai – Composite: DOWN 0.9 percent at 2,937.97
  • Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1020 from $1.1021 at 2140 GMT
  • Dollar/yen: DOWN at 109.14 yen from 109.21 yen
  • Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2794 from $1.2784
  • Euro/pound: DOWN at 86.13 pence from 86.18
  • West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 31 cents at $56.93 per barrel
  • Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 36 cents at $62.15 per barrel
  • New York – Dow: FLAT at 27,681.24 (close)
  • London – FTSE 100: DOWN 0.6 percent at 7,359.38 (close)

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