Asia Markets: Asian markets little changed as traders seek direction

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Asian markets sought direction in early trading Tuesday, as traders awaited the next development in U.S.-China trade talks and violent protests continued in Hong Kong.

President Donald Trump said over the weekend that while trade talks were going “very nicely,” there was not yet an agreement to roll back tariffs. On Monday, Politico reported that Trump was likely this week to extend the deadline on whether to impose tariffs up to 25% against European auto imports.

Hong Kong’s leader on Monday suggested police would take harsher measures to control protests, after a particularly violent day Monday, in which police shot one demonstrators and another man was set on fire. Protests continued Tuesday, with pro-democracy demonstrators blocking streets and subway entrances for the morning commute.

“Investors could remain skittish ahead of President Trump’s appearance at the New York Economic Club on Tuesday,” wrote Stephen Innes, chief Asia market strategist at AxiTrade, in a note Monday. “This speech could be the main event this week, especially if the president dangles any tangible details about his upcoming meeting with President Xi of China.”

Japan’s Nikkei NIK, +0.14%   edged up 0.2% while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index HSI, +0.05%  , which tumbled 2.5% on Monday, was about flat. The Shanghai Composite SHCOMP, -0.44%   fell 0.4% while the Shenzhen Composite 399106, -0.79%   retreated 0.7%. South Korea’s Kospi 180721, +0.16%   inched up 0.2%, while benchmark indexes in Taiwan Y9999, +0.45%  , Singapore STI, +0.26%  , Malaysia FBMKLCI, +0.06%   and Indonesia JAKIDX, -0.07%   were mixed. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 XJO, -0.44%   fell 0.4%.

Among individual stocks, convenience-store chain FamilyMart 8028, +3.56%   gained in Tokyo trading, while SoftBank 9984, -2.07%   and Japan Steel Works 5631, -0.99%   fell. In Hong Kong, Country Garden 2007, +1.26%   and Tencent 700, +1.24%   rose, while Wharf Real Estate 1997, -1.35%   and Sunny Optical 2382, -2.37%   declined. Samsung 005930, +0.78%   advanced in South Korea and Taiwan Semiconductor 2330, +0.83%   rose in Taiwan. Qantas QAN, +1.10%   and Virgin Australia VAH, +1.64%   gained in Australia.

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