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Asian shares slip as US-China spat takes center stage

/ 01:38 PM May 23, 2019
Asian shares slip as US-China spat takes center stage

In this May 14, 2019, photo, a man walks past an electric board displaying stock prices at a brokerage house in Beijing. Asian markets were broadly lower on Thursday, May 23, 2019 as traders focused on tensions between the U.S. and China and braced for impact. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

SINGAPORE — Asian markets were broadly lower on Thursday as traders focused on tensions between the United States and China, and braced for the impact of their tariff hikes.

The Shanghai Composite index retreated 0.6% to 2,873.70 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng tumbled 1.2% to 27,376.69. The Kospi in South Korea was 0.2% lower at 2,060.32. Australia’s S&P ASX 200 fell 0.3% to 6,489.10. Shares slipped in Taiwan, Singapore and the Philippines but rallied in Indonesia.

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Japan’s Nikkei 225 index lost 0.8% to 21,107.87, after a private survey suggested that manufacturing contracted in May. The Markit/JMMA flash purchasing managers’ index fell to 49.6 in May from 50.2 in the previous month. Numbers above 50 on the index show acceleration.

Earlier this month, the U.S. and China concluded their 11th round of trade talks with no agreement. Further talks have not been arranged.

The U.S. has imposed 25% tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese imports and is planning to target another $300 billion. It has also mounted sanctions against Huawei and is threatening to do the same with other Chinese companies. China, meanwhile, has retaliated against $110 billion in U.S. products.

“The stalemate between the U.S. and China looks likely to last longer as both sides continued to ratchet up rhetoric,” Zhu Huani of Mizuho Bank said in a commentary.

“Despite potential significant negative spillover effect this might have on U.S. firms, the Trump administration seems determined to curb China’s rise in technology advancement,” she added.

On Wall Street, trade worries and mixed corporate earnings pulled stocks lower.

Minutes by the Federal Reserve had scant influence on trading. They showed that some central bank officials felt more interest rate hikes may be needed to keep low unemployment from triggering unwanted inflation.

The S&P 500 index was down 0.3% at 2,856.27 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average retreated 0.4% to 25,776.61. The Nasdaq composite shed 0.5% to 7,750.84. The Russell 2000 index of small company stocks was 0.9% lower at 1,531.63.

Meanwhile, benchmark U.S. crude lost 36 cents to $61.06 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It gave up $1.71 to settle at $61.42 per barrel on Wednesday. Brent crude, the international standard, shed 42 cents to $70.57 per barrel. The contract slipped $1.19 to $70.99 in the previous session.

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The dollar, on the other hand, eased to 110.26 Japanese yen from 110.34 yen late Wednesday. The euro strengthened to $1.1153 from $1.1151. /kga

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