Asian markets down as dealers spooked by trade, Brexit

20th March, 2019 11:17:40 printer

HONG KONG: Asian markets mostly fell Wednesday with nervous investors keeping tabs on developments in China-US trade talks and the Brexit saga, while awaiting the conclusion of a key Federal Reserve meeting.

General optimism about the outlook for the tariffs negotiations has helped propel equities higher across the world this year — offsetting concerns about the outlook for the global economy — with both Washington and Beijing sounding broadly positive, reports AFP.

But dealers have been spooked by a report that some US officials are feeling some pushback from China on a number of demands, including on the crucial issue of intellectual property.

The unnamed negotiators said the Chinese side was growing concerned at the lack of assurances that US duties would be removed, according to the Bloomberg story.

While the report also said the resistance was regarded by some as a normal part of talks, it highlighted their fragile nature, with fears already raised earlier this month by the delay of a flagged signing summit between President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.  US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will return to Beijing next week to resume talks.

Hong Kong dropped 0.5 percent after a four-day rally, while Shanghai closed marginally down.

Sydney fell 0.3 percent, Singapore was off 0.4 percent and Seoul flat.

However, Tokyo recovered from an early sell-off to end 0.2 percent higher, while Taipei, Manila and Jakarta also rose.

Adding to unease on trading floors is continued uncertainty surrounding Britain’s drawn-out departure from the European Union.

Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to ask the bloc for an extension of the March 29 deadline for leaving, having seen her exit proposals killed off by MPs.