June 12: Asian markets were mixed Wednesday after two days of healthy gains but Hong Kong sank more than one percent as a huge protest paralysed key roads in the city and a number of local businesses shut up shop.
While there was some profit-taking after the recent rises, investors are keeping their focus on developments in the China-US trade saga and an expected meeting between Donald Trump and Xi Jinping at the G20 summit in Japan this month.
The US president repeated on Tuesday that he expects to hold a face-to-face with his Chinese counterpart on Osaka and said Beijing wanted a deal “very badly”.
US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross tempered expectations the leaders would reach an agreement by saying the meeting could lead to progress but not a “definitive agreement”. However, he said he was confident an agreement would be reached eventually.
The comments out of Washington were keeping traders on edge, though a broad narrative of central bank easing — with the Federal Reserve tipped to begin cutting interest rates and the European Union sticking to a softer outlook — is providing much-needed support.
“While there was only a sliver of hope a deal would get done before the G20, (Trump's) comments hardly suggest he's heading to Osaka in the most agreeable spirits,” said Stephen Innes, managing partner at Vanguard Markets.
“Investors are clinging on to hope, buttressed by significant central bank backstops, that the G20 can somehow pull a rabbit out of the hat and as such don't want to be caught short if the event produces a (trade) deal.”
Tokyo went into the break 0.1 percent higher, Sydney and Singapore each added 0.2 percent, and Wellington put on 0.1 percent.