Asian markets quiet as U.S.-China trade tensions linger

Asian markets quiet as U.S.-China trade tensions linger

Nikkei up slightly, Hang Seng gives up early gains

Asian stock markets were subdued in early trading Monday, as investors remained cautious of tensions between the U.S. and China after a pan-Pacific summit ended without consensus on trade issues.

Japan’s Nikkei NIK, +0.65% rose 0.3% as the yen USDJPY, -0.04% bounced off some of its weakest levels of November versus the dollar. The dollar was at ¥112.80, versus a session low around ¥112.60. A report Monday found Japan posted a larger-than-expected trade deficit in October, mostly due to a surge in energy imports. Tokyo Electron 8035, +3.61% was up 3% while Murata Manufacturing 6981, +1.28% gained 1.6%. But life insurers were weak as some questions have emerged about whether the Fed will again hike rates next month and how many more may occur in 2019. Sony Financial 8729, -3.03% was down 3.8%.

Hong Kong stocks cooled after a strong early start, as the Hang Seng Index HSI, +0.72% approached negative territory. Internet heavyweight Tencent 0700, +0.28% was up slightly while smartphone-component maker AAC 2018, +4.67% rebounded 3%. Utilities were a sore spot.

Chinese stocks were little changed, with the Shanghai Composite SHCOMP, +0.91% up fractionally while the smaller-cap Shenzhen Composite 399106, +0.51% fell slightly. Large-cap financial and energy stocks were slightly higher while health care and materials were a touch lower.

South Korea’s Kospi SEU, +0.39% was about flat, as Samsung 005930, -0.80% fell almost 1%, while benchmarks in Singapore STI, -0.60% and Taiwan Y9999, +0.32% dipped.

Australia’s ASX 200 XJO, -0.64% fell 0.7% as energy stocks fell, and New Zealand’s benchmark NZ50GR, -0.19% sank as well.

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