Asia Markets: Asian markets retreat as trade tensions ratchet back up

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Asian markets slipped in early trading Wednesday amid growing pessimism over U.S.-China trade talks scheduled later this week.

Late Monday, the U.S. blacklisted 28 Chinese companies, including artificial-intelligence companies because of their alleged role in human-rights violations against the Uighur Muslim minority. And Tuesday, the U.S. announced visa restrictions against Chinese officials believed involved in abuses if Uighurs. Bloomberg News also reported the Trump administration may move to cap the flow of U.S. capital into Chinese companies.

In response, China’s Commerce Ministry issued a statement saying the U.S. should “stop interfering” in its internal affairs. “China will also take all necessary measures to resolutely safeguard China’s own interests,” a Commerce Ministry spokesperson said, according to CNBC.

“With the recent U.S. trade war escalation headlines . . . it suggests from President Trump’s perspective that at this stage of the election process a trade deal this week, will not offer up a significant enough policy victory that he needs to bolster his polling numbers against the gale-force economic and political headwinds he’s facing stateside,” Stephen Innes, Asia-Pacific market strategist at AxiTrader, wrote in a note. “So, it’s back on the trade-war offensive. Frankly, it’s incredible how my times the markets get sucked back into the trade-war calm only to end up back in trade-war purgatory.”

Japan’s Nikkei NIK, -0.67%   fell 0.7% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index HSI, -0.34%   retreated 0.2%. The Shanghai Composite SHCOMP, +0.02%   inched up slightly, while the smaller-cap Shenzhen Composite 399106, -0.23%   was about flat. Benchmark indexes in Taiwan Y9999, -0.60%  , Singapore STI, -0.46%  , Malaysia FBMKLCI, -0.38%   and Indonesia JAKIDX, +0.00%   were largely down. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 XJO, -0.71%   fell 0.8%. South Korea’s Kospi was closed for a holiday.

Among individual stocks, SoftBank 9984, -1.34%   fell in Tokyo trading, along with oil producer Inpex 1605, -2.26%   and e-commerce company Rakuten 4755, -2.20%  . In Hong Kong, Hang Seng Bank 11, -3.21%   fell, as did Apple component maker Sunny Optical 2382, -1.54%   and casino operator Galaxy Entertainment 27, -1.66%  . Foxconn 2354, -1.24%  declined in Taiwan and in Australia, Beach Energy BPT, -1.63%   and BHP BHP, -0.98%   fell.