Asia stocks higher amid US-China trade jitters and unrest in Hong Kong – CNBC

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Major stocks markets in Asia closed higher on Tuesday after struggling for direction earlier in the day. Concerns over the state of U.S.-China trade negotiations as well as a recent escalation of violence in protests in Hong Kong continued to loom over regional markets.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 gained 0.81% on the day to 23,520.01 while the Topix index recovered from an earlier decline to close at 1,709.67.

Mainland Chinese shares were mixed on Tuesday. The Shanghai composite added 0.17% to around 2,914.82 while the Shenzhen composite gained 0.17% to approximately 1,614.19. The Shenzhen component, on the other hand, declined by 0.11% to 9,670.14.

Meanwhile, market movements in Hong Kong continued to be monitored. The Hang Seng index rose 0.41%, as of its final hour of trading, with shares of Chinese tech giant Tencent jumping 1.8%.

The moves came after the Hang Seng index plunged more than 2.5% on Monday following an escalation in violence amid unrest in the embattled city. A protester was left in critical condition after being shot by police Monday morning local time. Separately, another man was also in critical condition after he was doused with what police described as “flammable liquid” and set on fire.

The Kospi in South Korea added 0.79% to close at 2,140.92. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 lagged as it slipped 0.29% to finish its trading day at 6,753.00, with shares of banking giant Westpac dropping 3.53%.

Overall, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index traded 0.49% higher.

Investors watched for developments on U.S.-China trade, amid uncertainty over what has been agreed to between the two economic powerhouses. U.S. President Donald Trump said Friday he had not agreed to roll back tariffs on China. That conflicted with comments from the Chinese commerce ministry, which said both sides had agreed to cancel existing levies in phases. A U.S. official also said both sides agreed to roll back the tariffs in tranches.

“Markets are reacting to every gyration in these sort of tweets and trade comments,” Mitul Kotecha, senior emerging markets strategist at TD Securities, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Tuesday.

“The reality is, of course, that both sides do want a deal. It does seem like we’re heading towards at least a phase one deal and it’s sometime in December,” Kotecha said. “The question is, though, what really happens to tariffs in that phase one deal?”

“The markets might be a little bit extended in terms of pricing in a very positive trajectory on an end to this whole tariff tension,” Sameer Goel, head of Asia macro strategy at Deutsche Bank, told CNBC’s “Capital Connection” on Tuesday.

“It is possible that we may be … past the peak in tariffs but it’s also true that the market seems to have overpriced their expectations, not just about a ceasefire … on trade tensions but about a potential rollback,” Goel said.

Currencies and oil

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was last at 98.238 after earlier touching a low of 98.206.

The Japanese yen, widely viewed as a safe-haven currency in times of market uncertainty and turmoil, traded at 109.24 after seeing an earlier high of 108.96. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.6854 after slipping from levels around $0.686 in the previous session.

Oil prices reversed an earlier decline to rise in the afternoon of Asian trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures gaining 0.29% to $62.36 per barrel and U.S. crude futures adding 0.26% to $57.01 per barrel.

— CNBC’s Fred Imbert contributed to this report.

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