Asian shares mixed as doubts grow on elusive U.S.-China trade deal

By Ritu,

Capital Sands

Asian share markets were mixed on Tuesday, as another day awaiting clearer news on the progress of U.S.-China trade negotiations left investors bereft of trading motivation.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan (MIAPJ0000PUS) inched 0.2% higher as hopes for stimulus in China lifted Shanghai blue chips by 0.8% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng by 1%.

Japan’s Nikkei (N225), however, shed 0.2% and South Korea’s Kospi 200 dropped 0.3%. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 (AXJO) rose 0.4%.

Volumes were light across the board. E-Mini futures for the S&P 500 (ESc1) were flat.

“It’s subdued today for sure,” said Vishnu Varathan, head of economics and strategy at Mizuho Bank’s Asia Treasury Department in Singapore, adding that focus was by default on efforts to resolve the trade war between the world’s two biggest economies that has dented global growth.

“There are some lingering doubts over whether a phase one deal can be struck … I think the suspicion is that there’s a lot more wrinkles to iron out than initially thought.”

Overnight, CNBC had reported the mood in Beijing was pessimistic about the prospects of sealing an agreement.

On the other hand, a new extension allowing U.S. companies to keep doing business with Chinese telecoms giant Huawei suggested something of an olive branch.

Still, neither morsel shed much light on progress in U.s.-China negotiations, and this week’s listless trading suggests optimism that resolution is near is beginning to run out of steam.

“We’re still waiting,” said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at brokerage CMC Markets in Sydney. “The longer we go on, the more concerns will arise. The reality is the clock is ticking.”

The next deadline in the dispute is Dec. 15, when another round of U.S. tariffs on Chinese good is scheduled to take effect.

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