Banks, technology stocks pull indexes lower in early trade


BANGKOK (AP) — Asian markets were mostly higher Wednesday after a listless day of modest losses on Wall Street.

Chinese benchmarks led the advance, lifted by promises the legislature will enact measures to open the economy and cool trade tensions.

The Shanghai Composite index jumped 0.9 percent to 3,082.87 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 0.2 percent to 29,022.29. Japan’s Nikkei 225 lost 0.7 percent to 21,573.60 as a stronger yen hurt shares of export manufacturers.

Elsewhere in Asia, Australia’s S&P ASX 200 rose 0.7 percent to 6,240.50 and South Korea’s Kospi lost 0.5 percent to 2,169.16. India’s Sensex gained 0.4 percent to 36,584.00. Shares rose in Indonesia and Taiwan but fell in Singapore.

China will bar government authorities from demanding overseas companies hand over technology secrets in exchange for market share, Ning Jizhe, vice chairman of the Cabinet’s economic planning agency told reporters at a news conference on the sidelines of the annual session of the National People’s Congress in Beijing.

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The measure addresses complaints that China forces companies to share technology, a key issue in the trade war between the U.S. and China.

The provision is contained in a foreign investment law to be debated during the rubber-stamp legislature’s session, which wraps up later this month.

“Examining the outlook, the market remains a trade driven one as we await the confirmation and details of the trade deal,” Jingyi Pan of IG said in a commentary. “Past that, however, the latest set of announcements does affirm the Chinese authorities’ willingness to put policy into action to keep the market going.”

Overnight, stocks edged lower on Wall Street as losses in industrial, technology and financial stocks outweighed gains elsewhere.

Meanwhile, traders continued to wait for new details on trade talks between the U.S. and China.

The S&P 500 index edged 0.1 percent lower to 2,789.65. The Dow Jones Industrial Average also lost 0.1 percent, to 25,806.63. The Nasdaq composite was flat at 7,576.36. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies gave up 0.5 percent to 1,568.28.

The U.S. and China have pulled back from an immediate escalation of their damaging trade war since they started negotiating last month. President Donald Trump postponed a deadline for raising tariffs on more Chinese goods, citing progress in a series of talks. Media reports on Monday suggested the nations could strike a deal this month.

ENERGY: U.S. crude slipped 46 cents to $56.10 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It gave up 3 cents to settle at $56.56 a barrel on Tuesday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 49 cents to $65.37 a barrel.

CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 111.76 yen from 111.87 yen on Tuesday. The euro weakened to $1.1296 from $1.1309.

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Associated Press writers Damien J. Troise and Alex Veiga contributed.

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