Asian Markets Mixed; Chinese Stocks Down Amid Lack of Sino-U.S. Trade Progress

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© Reuters. © Reuters. – Asian markets were mixed in morning trade on Friday. Chinese stocks underperformed as there were no concrete signs of progress on U.S.-China relations.

China’s and the dropped 0.6% and 1.3% respectively by 10:50 PM ET (02:50 GMT).

Trade tensions intensified this week after the U.S. House of Representatives passed two bills to back protesters in Hong Kong and send a warning to China about human rights, a measure that angered Beijing and complicated the ongoing trade talks between the China and the U.S.

However, the Wall Street Journal reported that Chinese Vice Premier Liu He still invited top U.S. trade negotiators, including U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, for a new round of face-to-face talks in Beijing.

The Journal’s report said that officials in the U.S. were willing to meet with their Chinese counterparts.

“China is willing, on the basis of equal and mutual respect with the U.S., to work together to properly settle areas of common concern and strive for a phase-one trade agreement,” Gao Feng, China’s Ministry of Commerce spokesman, said at a regular press conference Thursday.

He noted that “external rumors” about the trade talks are not accurate, and noted that the two trade delegations remain in close communication.

Earlier this week, Reuters said a phase one trade deal might not be signed before the end of this year.

“I think the phase one agreement is important. One, because it would put a trade truce between China and the United States. Two, it’d build a little confidence and certainty in the trading system,” Myron Brilliant, executive vice president and head of international affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, told CNBC in an interview.

“It is a step in the right direction if the deal can get done,” Brilliant said.

The Index inched up 0.2% after S&P Global Ratings maintained its outlook on Hong Kong, noting that its unique access to mainland China will help maintain its status as an Asian financial hub and its credit rating intact despite the city’s unrest.

S&P’s view was in contrast with Moody’s Investors Service Inc., which downgraded Hong Kong’s rating outlook in September, citing risk that protests will undermine the city’s attractiveness as a financial hub.

Japan’s gained 0.3%.

Shares of gaming firm Nintendo Co Ltd (T:) plunged more than 2.5% after Morgan Stanley downgraded the stock to equal-weight from overweight.

South Korea’s was little changed.

Down under, Australia’s rose 0.5%. Westpac Banking Corp (ASX:)’s stocks declined about 1% after Goldman Sachs cut its price target for the stock by 10%

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