Asian stocks mixed on Huawei charges as trade talks loom


SINGAPORE (AP) — World markets were mixed Tuesday amid concerns that U.S. criminal charges against China’s Huawei could complicate trade talks, though European indexes were up on optimism over Brexit.

KEEPING SCORE: Germany’s DAX was up 0.1 percent to 11,220 and France’s CAC 40 added 0.7 percent to 4,920. Britain’s FTSE 100 rebounded 1.3 percent to 6,834. Wall Street was set for small losses. The future contract for the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 0.2 percent and S&P 500 futures lost 0.1 percent.

ASIA’S DAY: Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index dropped 0.2 percent to 27,531.68 and the Shanghai Composite index fell 0.1 percent to 2,594.25. Japan’s Nikkei 225 index closed 0.1 percent higher at 20,664.64 after tumbling earlier in the day. The Kospi in South Korea gained 0.3 percent to 2,183.36. Australia’s S&P ASX 200, reopening after a holiday, eased 0.5 percent to 5,874.20. Stocks fell in Taiwan and throughout Southeast Asia.

HUAWEI CHARGES: China called on Washington on Tuesday to “stop the unreasonable crackdown” on Huawei, warning it would defend its companies after the U.S. escalated pressure on the tech giant by indicting it on charges of stealing technology and violating sanctions on Iran. That followed Monday’s indictment by the Justice Department of Huawei and its chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, on charges of stealing technology and violating sanctions on Iran. The Chinese government also urged the U.S. to drop its request to extradite Meng from Canada, where she was arrested on Dec. 1.

US-CHINA TALKS: American and Chinese negotiators will sit down for two days of trade talks starting Wednesday in Washington. According to Bloomberg, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said at a briefing Monday that President Donald Trump is set to meet Chinese Vice Premier Liu He. While Trump’s presence may indicate that the U.S. is serious about striking a deal, charges against Huawei could cast a cloud over negotiations going forward.

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ANALYST’S TAKE: Charges against Huawei “illustrate the risks attached to the U.S.-China relationship,” DBS Group Research strategists Philip Wee and Eugene Leow said in a commentary. “The actions by the DOJ show that it would not be enough for China to buy more U.S. goods. America wants China to make structural reforms especially on its intellectual property practices.”

BREXIT PLAN: Lawmakers will debate and vote Tuesday on “Plan B” for Britain’s impending exit from the European Union. They may also try to amend it and send Prime Minister Theresa May down a different path. Analysts note it is likely that lawmakers will also push for a delay to the March 29 Brexit day, giving them more time to find common ground. The current plan, which May concocted after talking to supporters and opposition politicians, looks a lot like the original that was rejected by 432 votes to 202 earlier this month. Britain is set to leave the bloc exactly two months from now, with or without a divorce deal.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude added 40 cents to $52.39 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It dropped $1.70 to settle at $51.99 per barrel on Monday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, rose 49 cents to $60.42 per barrel. It lost $1.78 to $59.81 per barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar was trading at 109.46 yen, up from 109.35 yen late Monday. The euro strengthened to $1.1432 from $1.1428. The British pound was steady at $1.3153.

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