Stocks in Asia were mixed in Tuesday afternoon trade amid concerns over the state of U.S.-China trade negotiations.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 shed 0.38% in afternoon trade, with shares of index heavyweight and robot maker Fanuc dropping more than 1%. The Topix index also declined 0.21%. In South Korea, the Kospi slipped 0.51%.
Mainland Chinese stocks were higher by the afternoon. The Shenzhen component advanced 1.29% while the Shanghai composite was 0.46% higher. The Shenzhen composite gained 1.281%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index also added 0.85%.
The S&P/ASX 200 in Australia advanced 0.25%. Minutes from the Reserve Bank of Australia’s (RBA) November meeting, where the central bank had kept the cash rate unchanged at 0.75%, were released earlier on Tuesday.
“The Board agreed that a case could be made to ease monetary policy at this meeting, but that the most appropriate approach would be to maintain the current stance of monetary policy and to make another full assessment once more evidence of the effects of the earlier monetary easing had become available,” the minutes said.
The RBA Board also “discussed the possibility that a further reduction in interest rates could have a different effect on confidence than in the past, when interest rates were at higher levels.” The Australian central bank has cut interest rates three times so far in 2019.
Overall, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index traded 0.11% higher.
US-China trade worries
Investor reaction to overnight developments around U.S.-China trade talks will be watched. CNBC’s Eunice Yoon reported Monday, citing a government source, that Beijing is pessimistic about the trade deal. China is concerned after U.S. President Donald Trump said there would be no tariff rollback, Beijing had thought both parties had agreed in principle, Yoon reported.
That came following a report over the weekend by Chinese state media that “constructive” trade talks had occurred at a high level between Beijing and Washington. The two economic powerhouses have been working toward reaching a “phase one” deal, expected to be signed soon, following a tariff war that has lasted for more than a year and dented investor sentiment.
“Our preference remains on putting more weight on comments coming directly from officials dealing with the trade negotiations and on this score there is nothing to contradict the view that the US and China are still working towards striking a deal,” Rodrigo Catril, senior foreign exchange strategist at National Australia Bank, wrote in a note.