Asian shares mixed in lackluster trading, Nikkei falls 0.6%

James Riley

FILE – In this July 1, 2019, file photo trader James Riley works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. The U.S. stock market opens at 9:30 a.m. EDT on Monday, July 15. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

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TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares were little changed and mixed in quiet trading Tuesday amid a lack of fresh market-moving news as investors looked ahead to earnings season.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 lost 0.6% in early trading to 21,549.68. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 edged 0.1% higher to 6,657.20. South Korea’s Kospi added 0.3% to 2,089.54 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 0.2% to 28,600.32, while the Shanghai Composite shed 0.1% to 2,939.08.

“The lack of impetus for Asia markets has kept prices trading in a lackluster fashion this morning,” said Jingyi Pan, market strategist for IG in Singapore.

One factor weighing on sentiment is the impasse between the U.S. and China over trade.

The White House’s repeated threats to raise tariffs further in retaliation for the U.S. trade deficit and policies that critics say are unfair has made companies hesitant to invest and has hurt trade internationally. They’re a big reason China on Monday reported its weakest quarter of economic growth in at least 26 years.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin told reporters in Washington on Monday that he has held “several conversations” with Chinese officials and expects another phone call this week.

The aim is to restart high-level talks that collapsed in May.

“To the extent that we make significant progress I think we’ll go there,” he said.

Wall Street had a wobbly day of trading with gains that were just enough to nudge benchmarks further into record territory.

The S&P 500 rose 0.53 points to 3,014.30 after drifting between a gain of 0.1% and a loss of 0.2% earlier in the day. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.1%to 27,359.16 and the Nasdaq composite added 0.2% to 8,258.19.

U.S. stocks have jumped since early June on increasing expectations that the Federal Reserve will cut interest rates to help the economy, and investors are virtually certain that it will happen at the next Fed meeting at the end of this month. The only question, investors say, is how deeply the Fed will cut when it lowers rates for the first time in a decade.

Until then, the main drivers for the market will likely be the hundreds of earnings reports scheduled to come from big companies, showing how much profit they made from April through June.

Several economic reports are also on the schedule this week, including updates on retail sales, the housing industry and shoppers’ confidence. The U.S. economy has generally remained solid, but investors don’t expect this week’s reports to alter the direction of the Fed, which has already given hints about rate cuts given weakening economic trends around the world.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude was unchanged at $59.58 a barrel. It fell 63 cents on Monday. Brent crude, the international standard, gained 7 cents to $66.55 a barrel.

CURRENCIES: The dollar inched up to 107.98 Japanese yen from 107.92 late Monday. The euro rose to $1.1263 from $1.1258.


AP Business Writers Stan Choe and Damian J. Troise in New York contributed to this report.

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