Asian markets down on trade uncertainty, unrest hits Hong Kong

AFP . Hong Kong | Update:

Photo:AFPAsian markets turned lower on Monday as another record close on Wall Street was overshadowed by uncertainty over the China-US trade talks, while Hong Kong was also hit by fresh protests in which at least one person was shot.

Expectations Beijing and Washington will agree a mini pact have fuelled an equity rally for the past few weeks, and hopes were given an added boost Thursday after China said the two sides had agreed to roll back some tariffs as the negotiations progress.

But the US side sent out some confusing signals after that announcement, before Donald Trump denied such an agreement, leaving investors scratching their heads.

Still, White House trade adviser Peter Navarro provided a lift to sentiment, saying Trump could postpone tariffs on Chinese goods scheduled to take effect in December. The S&P 500 and Dow both ended at fresh all-time highs.

However, Asian investors were unable to extend the winning streak.

Tokyo went into the break 0.2 per cent lower and Singapore shed 0.4 percent with Seoul, Taipei and Manila also lower.

Shanghai dropped 0.9 per cent, with traders keeping tabs on Alibaba's annual "Singles' Day" shopping frenzy, the world's biggest 24-hour shopping event, which acts as a gauge of the country's consumer spending.

Total gross merchandise volume settled through the company's payments platform Alipay hit 100 billion yuan ($14.3 billion) within 63 minutes and 59 seconds, according to Alibaba -- 43 minutes ahead of last year's pace. The firm said the first $1 billion was spent in just 68 seconds.

Hong Kong sank more than two percent as the city was gripped by another wave of protests that have jammed up the transport network and led to the closure of several businesses.

At least one person was hurt after a policemen fired several shots are demonstrators, as the five-month-long unrest -- which has battered the city's image and dragged on the economy -- shows no sign of letting up.

Tensions have soared in recent days following the death on Friday of a 22-year-old student who succumbed to injuries sustained from a fall in the vicinity of a police clearance operation a week earlier.

On currency markets the pound struggled to bounce back after suffering a sell-off Friday in reaction to news that Moody's had downgraded the outlook for Britain's debt, citing mounting policy challenges as the Brexit saga rumbles along.

   
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