Asia Markets: Asian markets fall as Trump offers no new trade-deal details

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Asian markets fell in early trading Wednesday after President Donald Trump offered no new details about progress toward a trade deal between the U.S. and China.

In a speech in New York on Tuesday, Trump repeated his claim that a deal “could happen soon,” but added no specifics. Tariffs appear to be the sticking point, and Trump again threatened that “if we don’t make a deal, we’re going to substantially raise the tariffs.” Trump also raged against the Fed for not cutting rates as fast as he wanted, and touted U.S. economic data.

Japan’s Nikkei NIK, -0.91%   fell 0.8% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index HSI, -1.76%   slid 1.7%. The Shanghai Composite SHCOMP, -0.15%   edged down 0.2% and the smaller-cap Shenzhen Composite 399106, +0.11%   inched up 0.1%. South Korea’s Kospi 180721, -1.02%   dipped 0.9% while benchmark indexes in Taiwan Y9999, -0.42%  , Singapore STI, -0.61%   and Indonesia JAKIDX, -0.35%   declined. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 XJO, -0.72%   dropped 0.5%, and New Zealand’s NZX-50 NZ50GR, -0.83%   fell slightly after the country’s central bank unexpectedly kept its official cash rate unchanged.

Among individual stocks, Nissan 7201, -0.41%   fell in Tokyo trading after reporting a 70% plunge in operating income from the previous year, and lowering its revenue and profit outlook. Fast Retailing 9983, -1.85%   and Inpex 1605, -1.60%   also declined. In Hong Kong, real estate stocks such as New World Development 17, -5.09%  , Wharf Real Estate 1997, -3.53%   and Sino Land Co. 83, -3.72%   were hammered as violent protests continued. LG Electronics 066570, -0.87%   pulled back in South Korea, and Foxconn 2354, -1.20%   dipped in Taiwan. Beach Energy BPT, -5.10%   tumbled in Australia.

Trump’s comments “served as a reminder of the challenge that the two sides face,” said Jingyi Pan of IG in a report. However, she said, investors saw them as “positioning statements,” reducing their impact.

The comments did little to jolt Wall Street, which closed with modest gains.

Hong Kong shares have been jolted by an escalation in violence in five-month-old anti-government protests. A protester was shot Monday and others blocked streets and commuter rail tracks and set off gasoline bombs at the University of Hong Kong.

The protests began in June over a proposed extradition law and have grown to include demands for greater democracy and other grievances. Already under pressure from weak global demand and the U.S.-China tariff war, Hong Kong has tumbled into its first recession in a decade.

On Wall Street, the benchmark S&P 500 index SPX, +0.16%   rose past the 3,100 level for the first time but the gains didn’t hold. The index ended up 0.2% at 3,091.84. The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.00%   closed unchanged at 27,691.49. The Nasdaq COMP, +0.26%   gained 0.3% to a record 8,486.09.

Momentum for the market has been mostly upward for more than five weeks as worries about the U.S.-China trade war have eased, among other factors.

Health care, technology and communication services stocks led gains Tuesday, outweighing losses in energy companies and elsewhere.

This week, the U.S. Labor Department is due to give updates on consumer and wholesale inflation. Economists expect a government report to show retail sales returned to growth in October.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell is due to give testimony to Congress on Wednesday about the U.S. economy. Most investors expect the Fed to keep interest rates on hold for now after cutting them three times since the summer.

Benchmark U.S. crude CLZ19, -0.30%   lost 6 cents to $56.74 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 6 cents on Tuesday to close at $56.80. Brent crude BRNF20, -0.39%  , used to price international oils, shed 10 cents to $61.96 per barrel in London. It retreated 12 cents to $62.06 the previous session.

The dollar USDJPY, +0.05%   gained to 109.06 yen from Tuesday’s 109.01 yen.