Asia stocks fall as investors watch U.S.-China trade developments

Asian stocks were mostly lower in Monday afternoon trade as investors watch for developments on the U.S.-China trade front.

Mainland Chinese shares declined by the afternoon, with the Shanghai composite dropping 1.31 percent and the Shenzhen composite down 1.426 percent.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index shed 0.86 percent. Shares of companies related to China’s Fosun saw declines, following the collapse of the world’s oldest travel firm Thomas Cook, the Chinese conglomerate is the largest shareholder in the British firm. Fosun Tourism dropped 3.79 percent and Fosun International declined 0.96 percent.

South Korea’s Kospi was 0.14 percent lower, while the S&P/ASX 200 in Australia rose 0.36 percent.

Over in India, shares bucked the overall downward trend regionally as the Nifty 50 jumped and S&P BSE Sensex both jumped more than 1.5 percent each, adding to large gains seen last Friday after a surprise tax cut was announced.

Overall, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index shed 0.31 percent. Markets in Japan are closed on Monday for a holiday.

Anheuser-Busch InBev, is set to price its Budweiser IPO in Hong Kong on Monday. It is the firm’s second attempt at doing so after halting an earlier attempt at going public.

US-China trade

On the trade front, China’s Ministry of Commerce said over the weekend that economic and trade teams from the two economic powerhouses held constructive discussions in Washington late last week. They added that both the U.S. and China agreed to maintain in contact.

Shares stateside had slipped last Friday after the Chinese delegation canceled a visit to U.S. farms in Montana and Beijing officials headed back to China earlier than planned, dampening expectations of a trade deal being reached.

“The starting point is they’re not on the same page, the collateral damage is going to be far more pernicious because even if China is implicated it’s not just China that’s implicated,” Vishnu Varathan, head of economics and strategy at Mizuho Bank, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Monday. “I don’t think anyone is winning the trade war.”

Oil prices jump

Oil prices jumped in the afternoon of Asian trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures gaining 1.04 percent to $64.95 per barrel and U.S. crude futures jumping 1.02 percent to $58.68 per barrel.

Shares of oil companies regionally, however, were mixed. Australia’s Beach Energy surged 2.14 percent and Santos gained 0.64 percent, while South Korea’s S-Oil rose 0.49 percent and Hong Kong-listed shares of China’s CNOOC slipped 1.43 percent.

The moves in crude prices came after reports surrounding Saudi Arabian state oil firm Aramco, which recently saw attacks at major facilities. The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday that repairs at Aramco could take months longer than the firm expects, citing Saudi officials and contractors.

That came following a Nikkei Asian Review report that Aramco told Japanese refiner JXTG about a potential change in shipments, raising questions over the kingdom’s ability to supply crude.


The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was last at 98.461 after seeing highs above 98.6 last week.

The Japanese yen traded at 107.71 against the dollar after seeing lows above 108.3 in the previous trading week. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.6778 after declining from levels above $0.685 last week.

Source: CNBC