Asian stocks mixed on US-China fears at start of quiet week


SINGAPORE (AP) — World markets were mixed Monday amid speculation over the next steps in a dispute between the U.S. and China over technology development and trade following meetings in Washington last week.

American and Chinese negotiators ended two days of talks in Washington last week without word of a deal, though those involved — including U.S. President Donald Trump — were optimistic about the road ahead.

Trump said he plans to meet his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping to sort out contentious issues. “I think when Xi and I meet, every point will be agreed to,” Trump said, without specifying a date or location.

A tariffs cease-fire between the U.S. and China is set to end on March 2, and the U.S. is expected to raise import taxes from 10 percent to 25 percent for $200 billion in Chinese goods.

“There is rising optimism on the trade talks between the U.S. and China, although no details have been nailed down. The upside is limited as President Trump also mentioned that if the talks are not successful a new round of tariffs is imminent,” Alfonso Esparza, senior market analyst at OANDA, said in a commentary.

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KEEPING SCORE: Germany’s DAX lost about 0.1 percent to 11,171.50 and the CAC 40 in France fell 0.3 percent to 5,001.13. Britain’s FTSE 100 was about 0.3 percent higher at 7,042.77 as traders awaited Prime Minister Theresa May’s trip to later this week to Brussels, where she will attempt to renegotiate a deal securing Britain’s exit from the European Union on March 29. The future contract for the Dow Jones Industrial Average edged 0.1 percent higher to 25,015.00 and that for the S&P 500 index also added 0.1 percent to 2,706.00.

THE DAY IN ASIA: Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index edged 0.2 percent higher to 27,990.21. Japan’s Nikkei 225 index advanced 0.5 percent to 20,883.77 and Australia’s S&P ASX 200 gained 0.5 percent to 5,891.20. New Zealand’s NZX index shed 0.2 percent to 9,747.69. India’s Sensex was down 0.1 percent at 36,454.38. Shares rose in Thailand but fell in Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines. Markets in mainland China and Taiwan are closed for the week for Lunar New Year celebrations. South Korean markets were closed for a holiday.

CHINESE DATA: A private survey released on Sunday suggested that China’s services activity slowed in January. The Caixin services purchasing managers’ index fell to 53.6 points for the month, down from 53.9 in December, likely due to domestic conditions. Numbers over 50 indicate expansion on the index’s 100-point scale. But new export sales grew at the fastest pace in more than a year, in a nod to an easing trade standoff with the U.S.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude rose 8 cents to $55.34 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It added $1.47 to settle at $55.26 per barrel on Friday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, was up 31 cents at $63.06 per barrel. The contract gained $1.91 to $62.75 per barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar strengthened to 109.87 yen from 109.50 yen late Friday. The euro was up slightly $1.1450. The British pound was trading at $1.3056, down from $1.3082.


Matt Ott in Madrid contributed to this report.

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