Asian shares were mostly lower Wednesday as investors awaited developments on the trade friction between the U.S. and China at the Group of 20 meeting of major economies in Japan later in the week.
Japan’s Nikkei NIK, -0.59% fell 0.6% while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index HSI, +0.05% was about flat. The Shanghai Composite SHCOMP, -0.23% dipped 0.2%, while the smaller-cap Shenzhen Composite 399106, +0.04% gave up early gains. South Korea’s Kospi 180721, -0.04% was flat and Taiwan’s Taiex Y9999, -0.52% retreated 0.5%. The benchmark indexes in Singapore STI, -0.29% was down 0.3% and Indonesia JAKIDX, +0.04% was flat, as was Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 XJO, -0.09% .
Among individual stocks, SoftBank 9984, -1.51% fell in Tokyo trading, as did Fast Retailing 9983, -1.20% and Honda Motor 7267, -0.27% . In Hong Kong, Sunny Optical 2382, +2.16% and meat processor WH Group 288, +0.64% gained while property companies, such as Sun Hung Kai 16, -1.57% , fell. SK Hynix 000660, +3.30% surged in South Korea while Taiwan Semiconductor 2330, -1.68% slipped in Taiwan. Rio Tinto RIO, +0.66% rose slightly in Australia.
On Wall Street, discouraging economic data and cautionary remarks from the head of the Federal Reserve weighed on the market.
The sell-off marked the third straight loss for the market and the biggest drop this month for the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 index, which hit an all-time high only last week.
In an early afternoon speech, the Fed‘s Powell noted that the economic outlook has become cloudier since early May amid uncertainty over trade and global growth. Earlier Tuesday, reports showed a decline in consumer confidence and more weakness in the housing market.
The S&P 500 index SPX, -0.95% fell 27.97 points, or 1%, to 2,917.38. The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -0.67% dropped 179.32 points, or 0.7%, to 26,548.22. The Nasdaq composite COMP, -1.51% , which is heavily weighted with technology stocks, slid 120.98 points, or 1.5%, to 7,884.72.
Trade policy remains the biggest source of uncertainty looming over the market. Investors are worried about the trade dispute between the U.S. and China and its potential impact on global economic growth and corporate profits.
Trump and Xi will meet this week at the G-20. The world’s two largest economies spent much of the current quarter escalating their trade war and giving global markets jitters over prospects for economic growth.
“To a large extent, any further deterioration in trade relations is expected to guide expectations here so the focus remains up ahead with the G-20,” said Jingyi Pan, market strategist at IG in Singapore.
Reuters reported that the U.S. will not make concessions on tariffs to lure China back to trade negotiations. Citing a senior administration official, Reuters said hopes of a trade breakthrough this weekend are low, and the best-case scenario would be a freezing of new tariffs and a path toward future talks, with the hope of calming global financial markets.
Benchmark crude oil CLQ19, +1.94% rose $1.05 to $58.88 a barrel. It fell 7 cents to settle at $57.83 a barrel Tuesday. Brent crude oil BRNQ19, +1.51% , the international standard, rose 73 cents to $65.01 a barrel.
The dollar USDJPY, +0.27% rose to 107.46 Japanese yen from 107.03 yen on Tuesday. .