Shares in Asia mixed as trade developments linger in background

Shares in Asia were mixed on Wednesday, with markets in Japan and Australia trading moderately higher as trade anxieties lingered in the background.

The Nikkei 225 edged higher by 0.47 percent as energy-related names recovered slightly after the last session’s decline. Tech stocks also advanced on the back of gains in their U.S. counterparts overnight, with Advantest up 0.85 percent, while consumer stocks slipped. The broader Topix rose 0.25 percent.

Greater China markets, meanwhile, moved in opposite directions. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index advanced 0.45 percent, with technology names contributing to the move higher, while mainland markets eased slightly. The Shanghai composite traded lower by 0.15 percent.

Down Under, the S&P/ASX 200 tacked on 0.39 percent, buoyed by gains in resource plays and oil producers. Mining majors Rio Tinto and BHP gained 2.68 percent and 1.86 percent, respectively, while the country’s “Big Four” banks traded lower across the board.

MSCI’s index of shares in Asia Pacific excluding Japan gained ground, trading 0.53 percent higher in Asia afternoon trade. Markets in South Korea were closed on Wednesday.

The slight overall gains in Asia came on the back of a mixed close on Wall Street, which saw the Nasdaq composite touch a record high. The tech-heavy index closed the day up 0.41 percent at 7,637.86, its second record close in the week.

Technology stocks contributed to those gains, while other sectors came under pressure amid a continued focus on trade tensions. Other major U.S. stock indexes finished the day little changed.

Despite the improved investor sentiment, trade-related concerns lingered. China reportedly agreed to purchase almost $70 billion in U.S. agriculture and energy products from the U.S. if the latter held off on imposing tariffs against Chinese imports, the Wall Street Journal said on Tuesday.

“Certainly Trump is the headline, as usual,” Brett McGonegal, chief executive of Capital Link International, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”

With China signaling that it is open to trade negotiations, it remained to be seen what the Trump administration’s next move would be following the trade-related threats it had made, McGonegal said.

The U.S. is also involved in trade discussions with Canada and Mexico. White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow on Tuesday said that President Donald Trump was considering separate negotiations with the two countries. It was not clear if such a move would bring an end to the trilateral NAFTA.

Meanwhile, the euro traded at $1.1716 in Asia afternoon trade, holding onto gains made in the last session. Analysts said the euro’s overnight climb came on the back of Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s comment that exiting the euro zone was not an objective.

The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of currencies, last traded at 93.870.

Oil prices were a touch higher: U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude gained 0.5 percent to trade at $65.85 per barrel and Brent crude futures were up 0.4 percent at $75.68.

Ahead, the Reserve Bank of India is expected to makes its interest rate decision at 5:00 p.m. HK/SIN.

Source: CNBC