Asia Stocks Mixed on US-China Trade Snag

BEIJING (AP) — Asian stock markets were mixed Wednesday after investors were rattled by a snag in a U.S.-Chinese trade truce following reports Beijing wants Washington to lift punitive tariffs.

Shanghai and Sydney declined while Tokyo and Hong Kong advanced.

Beijing wants 15% tariffs imposed in September on $125 billion of Chinese imports removed as part of a Phase 1 deal in talks aimed at ending a trade war that threatens global growth. There was no sign whether President Donald Trump would agree, which raised the possibility of a new breakdown in negotiations.

“We see it fit to temper optimism for now,” Vishnu Varathan of Mizuho Bank said in a report.

The Shanghai Composite Index declined by 0.2% to 2,985.45 while Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 was up 12 points at 23,263.83. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was unchanged at 27,680.44 and Seoul’s Kospi was flat at 2,143.77.

Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 sank by 0.2% to 6,682.30. Benchmarks in Taiwan and New Zealand declined while Singapore advanced.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Nasdaq closed at record highs Tuesday. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index closed just below the all-time high reached the previous day.

Gains have been driven by better-than-expected company earnings, interest rate cuts, hopes for a trade truce and a steadily growing economy.

The upbeat mood marks a pivot from the summer, when worries about trade, Britain’s messy potential exit from the European Union and the slowing global economy loomed over the market.

The Dow rose by 0.1% to 27,492.63 on Tuesday. The S&P 500 fell by 0.1% to 3,074.62. The Nasdaq composite added less than 0.1% to 8,434.68.

China’s central bank helped ease worries about a possible liquidity crunch by cutting its base interest rate on a one-year loan by 0.05% to 3.25%.

Analysts said the People’s Bank of China was filling demands for credit while keeping financial system risks under control.

“This is a small step towards future policy rate cuts, and it also signals that China’s central bank will finally start to follow other central banks in lowering its policy rate,” Citigroup economists said in a report.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude lost 31 cents to $56.92 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose by 69 cents on Tuesday to close at $57.23. Brent crude, used to price international oils, declined by 37 cents to $62.59 per barrel in London. It gained 83 cents the previous session to close at $62.96.

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