Asian stocks fall as trade worries linger before Fed’s rate decision
Asian markets dropped on Wednesday after US President Donald Trump criticized China in a series of tweets, adding to worries over trade negotiations that resumed recently in Shanghai.
Investors are also watching closely for the Federal Reserve’s interest rate decisions, due later in the day.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index closed 1.3% lower by 1:55 p.m. Trading on the city’s stock market was terminated due to a typhoon, the stock exchange announced Wednesday afternoon.
The Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.6%, while Japan’s Nikkei dropped 0.9% and South Korea’s Kospi lost 0.3%. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.5%, and Taiwan’s Taiex dipped 0.1%.
Trump said Tuesday on Twitter that there is no sign yet that China has started buying US agricultural products. He suggested China “should probably” wait to see if a Democrat is elected next.
“The problem with them waiting, however, is that if & when I win, the deal that they get will be much tougher than what we are negotiating now…or no deal at all,” he said.
The criticism came as the two countries’ top negotiators met in Shanghai for a two-day meeting through Wednesday, the first time since the countries declared a temporary truce at the G20 last month. Last week, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on CNBC that he didn’t expect any major deal at the meeting.
On Wednesday morning, government statistics showed China’s official Purchasing Managers’ Index inched up to 49.7 in July, slightly better than market expectations, but still below the 50-mark that separates contraction from expansion.
Traders also await clues from the Caixin/Markit PMI due Thursday, a closely watched gauge that better reflects the private manufacturing sector than the official figures.
Geopolitical tensions rose in Asia, after North Korea on Wednesday launched yet another round of projectiles, US and South Korean officials confirmed. It’s North Korea’s third launch since May.
The Federal Reserve is expected to deliver an interest cut later Wednesday, which would be the first time the central bank cut interest rates since 2008.
Here are some of the other big moves on Asian markets at 2:30 p.m. Hong Kong time.
Samsung Electronics tumbled as much 3.3% in Seoul, after the electronics giant reported a 56% fall in profit for the second quarter from the same period a year earlier, citing declining prices in memory chips. The stock recovered some of those losses later in the day to trade down 2.6%.
Hong Kong is set to announce its second-quarter GDP figures later on Wednesday. Analysts expect the local economy to be hurt by the city’s massive protests.
China General Nuclear Power Group, China’s largest nuclear power enterprise and one of the world’s largest, published a prospectus Wednesday morning, planning a $2.2 billion (15 billion yuan) listing on the Shenzhen stock exchange. It will be China’s largest stock market flotation this year. The money will be mainly used for building four nuclear reactors in southern Guangdong and Guangxi provinces.
Oil prices rose in Asia trading in anticipation of a Fed rate cut. WTI crude and Brent crude were both up, trading at $58.50 per barrel and $65.22 per barrel, respectively.
US stocks ended lower on Tuesday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 0.1%. The S&P 500 index lost 0.3%, and the Nasdaq Composite Index dropped 0.2%.
Shares of Coffee Day Enterprises, the owner of India’s biggest coffee chain, fell the maximum daily limit of 20% on the Bombay Stock Exchange for the second straight day. The body of the company’s founder, who disappeared earlier in the week, was found on Wednesday morning.
Correction: A previous version of this article misstated when the Caixin/Markit PMI is set to be released.