Asian markets mixed as worries of a global slowdown accelerate – MarketWatch

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Shares were mixed in Asia on Monday as investors awaited further developments in trade talks between the U.S. and China.

Major benchmarks were mostly higher, with the Shanghai Composite

SHCOMP, -2.56%

up 1% to 3,001.51 and the Hang Seng

HSI, -0.96%

in Hong Kong gaining 0.6% to 28,387.46.

Weaker-than-expected Chinese loan and money supply data raised expectations of further action to spur the slowing economy. The 885.8 billion yuan ($132 billion) in new loans in February was below forecasts and much lower than the 3.23 trillion yuan in new lending in January.

Elsewhere in Asia, Japan’s Nikkei 225 index

NIK, -1.54%

added 0.5% to 21,125.09 and the S&P ASX 200

XJO, -1.34%

 in Australia slipped 0.4%. South Korea’s Kospi

SEU, -1.28%

 was flat. Shares were lower in Singapore and Jakarta but rose in Thailand and Taipei.

Among individual stocks, Hitachi

6501, +3.03%

  and SoftBank

9984, +0.19%

  rose in Tokyo trading, while shipping Mitsui OSK Lines

9104, -4.44%

  fell. Smartphone component maker AAC

2018, -4.35%

  fell in Hong Kong, as did property stocks such as Country Garden Holdings

2007, -5.36%

  and China Overseas Land & Investment

0688, -2.79%

 . LG Electronics

066570, +0.27%

  gained in Korea, and Taiwan Semiconductor

2330, -1.50%

  slipped in Taiwan. Energy shares fell in Australia, led by Oil Search

OSH, -4.13%

 , Beach Energy

BPT, -4.76%

  and Woodside Petroleum

WPL, -2.99%

 .

It was a steady start for the week after a wave of selling on Wall Street Friday left the S&P 500 with its worst weekly showing since January and its eighth loss in nine trading sessions.

The sell-off followed a surprisingly weak jobs report and more signs that the global economy is hitting the brakes. On Friday a report showed Chinese exports plunged 20% last month, far more than economists expected. On Thursday, Europe’s central bank said it was doing a policy reversal and restoring measures to shore up that region’s economy.

The S&P 500

SPX, -0.21%

  dropped 0.2% to 2,743.07. The Dow Jones Industrial Average

DJIA, -0.09%

 lost 0.1% to 25,450.24. The Nasdaq Composite

COMP, -0.18%

 declined 0.2%to 7,408.14 and the Russell 2000 index

RUT, -0.11%

 of smaller companies gave up 0.1%, to 1,521.88. Major European indexes also closed lower.

U.S. and Chinese officials say the trade talks are making progress but no formal agreements or details of negotiations have been released.

China’s central bank governor on Sunday affirmed an official promise to avoid manipulating its currency to boost exports, an issue he said American and Chinese negotiators discussed in the latest talks in Washington aimed at ending a conflict over Beijing’s technology ambitions that has prompted both sides to raise tariffs on billions of dollars of each other’s goods.

Speaking at a news conference during the meeting of China’s ceremonial legislature, Yi Gang gave no indication the two sides had reached agreements beyond previous commitments produced by meetings of the Group of 20 major economies.

U.S. complaints that Beijing manipulates the yuan’s government-controlled exchange rate for a trade advantage have taken a backseat lately to frustration at its industrial policy. But American officials have long pressed China to allow the yuan to fluctuate more freely in response to market forces.

“’We stress that we will never use the exchange rate for competitive purposes, nor will we use it to boost China’s exports,” Yi said.

He repeated official promises that China’s stock and bond markets would open wider to global investors and its currency would trade more freely but gave no details or a timeline.

The yuan’s value sank this year, coming close to breaking the symbolic level of seven per dollar before rebounding slightly to about 6.7 to the greenback.

“Our exchange rate is relatively stable. But at the same time, that stability does not mean the exchange rate is fixed,” said Yi.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil

CLJ9, +0.73%

 gained 27 cents to $56.34 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It lost 59 cents to $56.07 per barrel on Friday. Brent

LCOK9, +0.73%

  the international standard, gained 28 cents to $66.02 per barrel. It lost 0.8 cents to close at $65.74 per barrel on Friday.

The dollar

USDJPY, +0.07%

 was trading at 111.12 yen, down slightly from 111.17 yen on Friday. The euro

EURUSD, +0.0712%

 strengthened to $1.1233 from $1.1230.

Japan’s Nikkei

NIK, -1.54%

  was last up 0.2% after earlier being in the red. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng

HSI, -0.96%

  rose 0.6%, while in mainland China, the Shanghai Composite

SHCOMP, -2.56%

  bounced up 1.2% and the smaller-cap Shenzhen Composite

399106, -0.04%

  jumped 2.3%. South Korea’s Kospi

SEU, -1.28%

  fell 0.2%, while indexes in Taiwan

Y9999, -0.60%

  and Singapore

STI, -1.18%

  were about flat. Australia’s ASX/200

XJO, -1.34%

  was down about 0.5%

Among individual stocks, Hitachi

6501, +3.03%

  and SoftBank

9984, +0.19%

  rose in Tokyo trading, while shipping Mitsui OSK Lines

9104, -4.44%

  fell. Smartphone component maker AAC

2018, -4.35%

  fell in Hong Kong, as did property stocks such as Country Garden Holdings

2007, -5.36%

  and China Overseas Land & Investment

0688, -2.79%

 . LG Electronics

066570, +0.27%

  gained in Korea, and Taiwan Semiconductor

2330, -1.50%

  slipped in Taiwan. Energy shares fell in Australia, led by Oil Search

OSH, -4.13%

 , Beach Energy

BPT, -4.76%

  and Woodside Petroleum

WPL, -2.99%

 .

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