Asian shares fall on sign of escalating US-China tensions

Key chains depicting the Arturo Di Modica's "Charging Bull" and Wall Street street signs are on display for sale on a street vendor's table outside the New York Stock Exchange, Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2018. Stocks are skidding Tuesday as weak results from retailers and mounting losses for big technology companies push the market back into the red for the year. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

SINGAPORE - Asian markets fell on Wednesday after a trade dispute between the U.S. and China stalled a weekend meeting, dimming hopes that it could be resolved once their leaders meet.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 dropped 0.6 per cent to 21,447.53 and the Kospi in South Korea was down 0.9 per cent at 2,064.34. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index slipped 0.4 per cent to 25,745.55. The Shanghai Composite lost 0.3 per cent to 2,638.77. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.6 per cent to 5,636.50. Shares fell in Taiwan, Indonesia and the Philippines but rose in Singapore.

WALL STREET: Broad losses by the world's largest technology companies pulled U.S. indexes lower on Tuesday and into the red for the year. They were reacting to new national security regulations proposed by the Trump administration, which could limit exports of high-tech products in fields like quantum computing, machine learning and artificial intelligence. Apple plunged 4.8 per cent, Microsoft lost 2.8 per cent and IBM gave up 2.6 per cent. The S&P 500 index fell 1.8 per cent to 2,641.89 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled 2.2 per cent to 24,465.64. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite shed 1.7 per cent to 6,908.82. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks dropped 1.8 per cent to 1,469.01.

US-CHINA TENSIONS: Over the weekend, a meeting of 21 nations at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Papua New Guinea ended without a final communique. That put the spotlight on a trade dispute between China and the U.S. that shows no signs of abating. Draft versions of the communique showed that the U.S. wanted strong language against what it says are unfair Chinese trade practices, while China wanted clear opposition to protectionism and unilateralism. U.S. President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping are scheduled to meet at Group of 20 summit later this month, but it is unclear if the talks will spur a reduction in tensions.

ANALYST'S TAKE: Attempts by the U.S. to condemn certain trade practices were a "surprise" as many expected that "the heat may have come out of the issue" after the midterm elections, Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets in Sydney, said in an interview. "The simultaneous pressure on industrial commodities and shares points to an escalation of global growth concerns," he added.

ENERGY: Oil prices rebounded Wednesday after plunging on worries of rising supplies and softening global growth. Benchmark U.S. crude added 65 cents to $54.08. The contract dropped $3.77 to close at $53.43 in New York, its lowest price in more than a year. Brent crude, the international standard, rose 71 cents to $63.24. It fell $4.26 to $62.53 in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 112.91 yen from 112.76 yen late Tuesday. The euro strengthened to $1.1372 from $1.1367.


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