TOKYO — Asian stocks were mostly lower Thursday, as the region nervously watched for market-moving news from the first meeting between the U.S. and Chinese leaders.
KEEPING SCORE: Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 lost 1.3 per cent in morning trading to 18,606.90, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 dipped 0.6 per cent to 5,841.70. South Korea’s Kospi lost 0.6 per cent to 2,148.81. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 0.7 per cent to 24,232.08. The Shanghai Composite was little changed at 3,271.54. Shares were also lower in Singapore, Taiwan, the Philippines and Indonesia.
US-CHINA: Investors were closely watching the meeting in Florida between President Donald Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping, the first between the leaders. Trump has said he plans to deliver an ultimatum to Xi to rein in North Korea.
THE QUOTE: “Today, the markets will be watching the first meeting between the US and Chinese leaders in Florida, or what people have called the ‘Xi-Trump summit.’ This meeting is probably the most important US-China summits in decades, and it will have significant impact on global trade and security,” said Margaret Yang Yan, analyst at CMC Markets Singapore. “Some key topics include trade, currencies and the issues with North Korea.”
FED FACTOR: Market sentiments were also dampened by the U.S. Federal Reserve’s minutes from its policy meeting last month. The minutes, disclosed overnight, showed Fed officials discussing plans to reduce the Fed’s bond holdings later this year and disagreeing over whether it would be safe to let inflation rise faster.
WALL STREET: The Standard & Poor’s 500 index lost 7.21 points, or 0.3 per cent, to close at 2,352.95. The Dow sank 41.09 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 20,648.15. The Nasdaq fell 34.13 points, or 0.6 per cent, to 5,864.48. The Russell 2000 index of small-company stocks lost 16.03 points, or 1.2 per cent, to 1,352.14.
ENERGY: U.S. crude oil fell 26 cents to $50.89 a barrel in New York. It rose 12 cents to $51.15 a barrel Wednesday. Brent, the international standard, slipped 22 cents to $54.14 a barrel in London.
CURRENCIES: The dollar slipped to 110.49 yen from 110.91 yen late Wednesday in Asia. The euro rose to $1.0680 from $1.0665.