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Asian markets mixed as global growth concerns return

WT24 Desk

HONG KONG – Asian markets stuttered Thursday with no fresh news on the China-US trade front and as investors turn their attention to further signs of weakness in the global economy., AFP reports.

A worldwide growth forecast downgrade from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and weaker-than-expected private US jobs data helped send Wall Street lower and dragged on Asian sentiment.

And observers said a surge in the US trade deficit could also spur Donald
Trump to ratchet up his protectionist agenda, even as he zeroes in on an
agreement with China.

“Whether this hardens the president’s attitude (for a deal in) the China
trade talks or he chooses a quick win is hard to say,” said Jeffrey Halley,
senior market analyst at OANDA.

“But with an election to fight next year, you can almost hear the clanking
as the White House swings its heavy artillery in the direction of the other
perceived trading bloc culprits.”

Halley suggested the tycoon will turn his focus on Japan — with whom
talks are ongoing — and the European Union.

“One thing is for sure, long after the US-China trade deal is put to bed,
we will not have heard the last of the word tariff in 2019,” he added.

Shanghai fell 0.6 percent in the morning, with profit-taking playing a
part after a bright start to the year that has seen the composite index jump
about a quarter. Tokyo ended the morning 0.7 percent lower while Hong Kong dipped 0.2 percent.

– Brexit deal ‘elusive’ –
But Sydney put on 0.3 percent, Singapore added 0.2 percent and Wellington
rose 0.1 percent.

Traders are moving cautiously after the OECD’s 2019 forecast cut and
disappointing private jobs numbers that bode ill for the release of closely
watched government data on Friday.

“We’re seeing a slowdown in the economy, we’re seeing a slowdown in
corporate earnings,” Oliver Pursche, chief market strategist at Bruderman
Asset Management, told Bloomberg TV.

“The market is waiting to see if things are going to turn out better or
worse than they expect, and we just don’t know.”

On currency markets the pound struggled as British and EU officials said
talks to hammer out a deal that Prime Minister Theresa May could push through parliament had been “difficult”, with a solution still elusive.

With just three weeks before the divorce day, the customs border in
Northern Ireland remains a major sticking point and there continue to be
worries that Britain will crash out of the EU without an agreement in place,
which could batter the economy.

However, traders take some comfort in the fact that if MPs reject whatever
deal is presented to them in a vote next week, they will vote in the
following days on whether to leave with no deal or delay Brexit.

– Key figures around 0230 GMT –

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.7 percent at 21,440.50 (break)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: DOWN 0.2 percent at 28,967.22

Shanghai – Composite: DOWN 0.6 percent at 3,085.17

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3183 from $1.3176 at 2100 GMT

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1313 from $1.1307

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 111.68 yen from 111.76 yen

Oil – West Texas Intermediate: UP 21 cents at $56.43 per barrel

Oil – Brent Crude: UP 37 cents at $66.36 per barrel

New York – Dow: DOWN 0.5 percent at 25,673.46 (close)

London – FTSE 100: UP 0.2 percent at 7,196.18 (close)

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