Asian Shares Mostly Lower As US-China Trade Talks End

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(RTTNews.com) - Asian stocks ended mostly lower on Thursday as three days of trade negotiations between mid-level American and Chinese officials ended in Beijing without significant breakthroughs. China said meetings were 'extensive, in-depth and detailed' without offering specifics.

China's Shanghai Composite index dropped 9.25 points or 0.36 percent to 2,535.10 after the release of inflation data. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index ended up by 0.22 percent at 26,521.43.

Consumer prices in China were up just 1.9 percent year on year in December, the National Bureau of Statistics said. That was shy of expectations for an increase of 2.1 percent year on year and down from 2.2 percent in November.

The bureau also said that producer prices were up an annual 0.9 percent - well shy of forecasts for 1.6 percent and down sharply from 2.7 percent in the previous month.

Japanese shares snapped a three-day winning streak as the yen firmed up in view of the dovish tone of the Fed minutes released on Wednesday.

The Nikkei average tumbled 263.26 points or 1.29 percent to 20,163.80 after climbing 4.4 percent over the past three sessions. The broader Topix index closed 0.85 percent lower at 1,522.01.

Exporters Daikin Industries, TDK Corp and Sony dropped 2-3 percent while heavyweights Fanuc, SoftBank and Kao Corp slumped 2-5 percent.

Factory automation machinery maker Yaskawa Electric, which has large exposure to China, plunged 3.4 percent.

Australian markets edged lower as investors awaited more details on U.S-China trade talks. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index rose 17 points or 0.29 percent to 5,795.30 after climbing nearly 1 percent in the previous session. The broader All Ordinaries index ended up 15.50 points or 0.27 percent at 5,853.90.

Mining giant BHP lost 3.4 percent on going ex-dividend, while smaller rival Fortescue Metals Group declined 1.7 percent.

Oil Search rallied 1.5 percent and Woodside Petroleum and Santos rose around 0.7 percent each after oil prices jumped 5 percent on Wednesday.

Gold miner Newcrest Mining climbed 1.8 percent and Evolution Mining jumped 3.8 percent, riding on dollar's weakness after minutes from the Fed's Dec.18-19 meeting revealed that several policymakers were in favor of the U.S. central bank keeping rates steady this year.

Shares of Costa Group Holdings slumped 38.8 percent after the horticultural company reported subdued demand for products such as tomatoes, avocado and berries. Map provider Nearmap soared 9.4 percent on upbeat first-half guidance.

Seoul stocks fell on profit taking as the U.S. and China wrapped up three days of trade talks without tangible results. The benchmark Kospi finished marginally lower at 2,063.28 after ending up nearly 2 percent in the previous session on hopes for a U.S.-China trade deal.

New Zealand shares fell slightly, with the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index ending down 28.06 points or 0.31 percent at 8,919.16, dragged down by industrial and healthcare stocks.

Overnight, U.S. stocks fluctuated before ending higher for the fourth consecutive session as the minutes from the latest Fed meeting revealed a dovish approach to rate hikes this year and investors remained hopeful that the U.S. and China will reach a long-term trade agreement before a March 1st deadline.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.4 percent, the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite gained 0.9 percent and the S&P 500 added 0.4 percent.

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This article appears in: World Markets , US Markets , Oil , Stocks

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