Investors in Asia traded cautiously Wednesday afternoon amid concerns over the state of ongoing U.S.-China trade negotiations, after reports emerged that the White House canceled a trade planning meeting with Beijing this week.
The mainland Chinese markets, closely watched in relation to the trade war between Beijing and Washington, saw early gains but eventually lost steam.
The Shanghai composite saw slight gains, while the Shenzhen component and Shenzhen composite both saw fractional losses by the end of the morning session. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index, however, traded a touch higher.
Officials from the Chinese finance ministry said Wednesday that Beijing will boost fiscal expenditure in 2019 to bolster the country’s economy.
China delivered about 1.3 trillion yuan of cuts in taxes and fees in 2018, in a bid to stem a slowdown in the country’s economic growth as the country was embroiled in a trade fight with Washington.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 rose fractionally, while the Topix index continued to trade 0.34 percent lower. Shares of Apple supplier Japan Display surged 10 percent, following a report that the company was looking for a bailout after disappointing sales of the iPhone XR. Japan Display supplies the liquid crystal display screens used in the iPhone XR.
Meanwhile, Japanese automaker Subaru saw its stock plunging more than 5.7 percent before recovering slightly. The stock moves came after Subaru announced it had halted production at its car factory in Japan due to a defective part.
Japan’s central bank kept interest rates steady, as expected. The Bank of Japan also left its forward guidance, a move taken in July to keep interest rates extremely low for an extended period, unchanged.
South Korea’s Kospi traded higher by around 0.35 percent.
In Australia, the ASX 200 slipped 0.37 percent as most sectors traded mixed. The energy sector declined by about 1.6 percent as oil stocks mostly fell on the back of Tuesday’s drop in crude prices. Santos dropped nearly 2 percent, Oil Search declined more than 1 percent and Woodside Petroleum fell 1.34 percent.
Oil prices attempted to stage a limited recovery on Wednesday following the losses in the previous session, with international benchmark Brent crude futures rising 0.11 percent to $61.57 per barrel and the U.S. crude futures contract rising fractionally to $53.03.
US-China trade truce
On Wall Street overnight, the Dow Jones Industrial Average snapped a four-day winning streak as it fell 301.87 points to close at 24,404.48. The S&P 500 shed 1.4 percent to finish its trading day at 2,632.90 while the Nasdaq Composite slipped 1.9 percent to close at 7,020.36.
Stocks stateside dropped to their lows of the day following a Financial Times story which said the U.S. had canceled a trade meeting with Chinese officials. The report was later confirmed by a source familiar with the situation to CNBC’s Kayla Tausche.
White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow, however, denied that report, telling CNBC that “there was never a planned meeting” other than the scheduled visit by Chinese Vice Premier Liu He next week.
“I think both sides have lots of incentives to try to deliver a mutually agreeable win but the difficulty will be whether China can move enough to satisfy the structural demands that have been placed upon China by the U.S. negotiating team,” Nelson Dong, senior partner at law firm Dorsey & Whitney, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Wednesday.
The U.S. and China are aiming to strike a deal to break their trade impasse before March 1. The two economic powerhouses have been locked in an ongoing trade war since 2018 which has seen both sides slap billions of dollars worth of tariffs on each other’s goods.
The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 96.330 after touching an earlier session high of 96.344.
The Japanese yen, widely seen as a safe-haven currency, traded at 109.66 against the greenback after after touching a high of 109.31 earlier. The Australian dollar was at $0.7136 after seeing an earlier low of $0.7114.