Asia markets tread water, with trade and China data in focus

Slight gains seen during the U.S. session failed to lift Asian markets on Tuesday, with stock indexes in the region treading water in the morning.

The Nikkei 225 hovered around the flat line, last trading higher by 0.02 percent, while the Topix advanced 0.21 percent. Banking stocks led the move higher in morning trade, with Mitsubishi UFJ Group up 1.63 percent ahead of earnings due later. Steelmakers also advanced.

Over in Seoul, the benchmark Kospi declined 0.55 percent as technology stocks weighed. Heavyweight Samsung Electronics fell 1.3 percent while chipmaker SK Hynix gave up early gains to slide 1.29 percent.






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In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index was lower by 0.42 percent after notching its sixth straight session of gains on Monday. Heavily weighted financials and technology shares were a drag on the benchmark, with Tencent down 1.17 percent.

Mainland markets held onto slight gains following the release of mixed China data: The Shanghai composite added 0.21 percent and the Shenzhen composite rose 0.29 percent.

Meanwhile, in Sydney, the S&P/ASX 200 drifted lower by 0.24 percent, with declines seen in all but the health care and information technology subindexes.

MSCI’s broad index of shares in Asia Pacific excluding Japan was lower by 0.37 percent in Asia morning trade.

The lack of conviction seen in major Asian markets followed a positive session on Wall Street, with U.S. stocks finishing slightly higher as investors focused on U.S.-China trade ties ahead of a second round of negotiations expected this week.

President Donald Trump said in a tweet on Sunday that he was working to find a way for Chinese telecommunications equipment company ZTE “to get back into business, fast.” That pledge comes after the U.S. government imposed a ban on U.S. companies on supplying ZTE with technology after the Chinese firm was found to have illegally shipped equipment to Iran.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on Monday said he hoped good relations between Trump and Xi would help to bring an agreement on trade matters, although he also acknowledged that the gap between the countries “remains wide.”

“[I]t’s all still very much a work in progress,” David de Garis, director of economics at National Australia Bank, said in a note, referring to broader uncertainty regarding trade-related news flow.

Meanwhile, MSCI on Tuesday announced that 234 China A shares will be added to its indexes on June 1.

Sideways trade in the region also followed the broad mover higher seen in the last session, with Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index leading the advance. The benchmark closed up 1.35 percent on Monday.

Meanwhile, oil prices were steady after gains seen in the last session as OPEC raised its global oil demand estimate for the year. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures added 0.06 percent to $71.00 per barrel and Brent crude futures ticker higher by 0.03 percent to trade at $78.25.

In individual movers, AAC Technologies fell 4.32 percent after the company on Monday announced first-quarter net profit that missed expectations.

On the corporate front, earnings are expected from Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group and Mizuho Financial Group. Also on the calendar for Tuesday are annual general meetings held by Sinopec and Li & Fung.

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