Asian stocks ended on a muted note Wednesday as worries about global economic growth and the uncertainty over U.S.-China trade talks kept investors on the sidelines.
Underlying sentiment remained cautious after media reports suggested that the United States has rejected Beijing’s offer to hold a preparatory meeting in Washington ahead of next week’s high-level trade talks.
However, White House adviser Lawrence Kudlow stressed that the two sides were on track to have “very, very important” high-level talks at the end of the month that will be “determinative.”
China’s Shanghai Composite index ended little changed with a positive bias on hopes that increased Chinese spending would stem an economic slowdown. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index also finished marginally higher.
Japanese shares fluctuated before finishing marginally lower as export data fell short of expectations and the Bank of Japan kept monetary policy steady, as widely expected, and cut its price projections.
The Nikkei average dropped 29.19 points or 0.14 percent to 20,593.72 while the broader Topix index closed 0.60 percent lower at 1,547.03.
The Bank of Japan kept its monetary policy unchanged today but downgraded the inflation forecast for this year primarily driven by a sharp fall in oil prices.
The central bank said it would conduct purchases of Japanese government bonds in a flexible manner so that the outstanding amount will increase at an annual pace of about JPY 80 trillion.
Sony ended little changed amid reports that it is moving its European headquarters to the Netherlands from the UK to continue business as usual and to avoid disruptions due to Brexit.
Automaker Subaru tumbled 3.4 percent. The company halted output at its sole car factory in Japan, which accounts for about 60 percent of its global production, due to a defect in component procured from a supplier.
Australian markets edged lower as global growth concerns pulled down material stocks. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index dropped 15.10 points or 0.26 percent to 5,843.70 while the broader All Ordinaries index ended down 15.60 points or 0.26 percent at 5,908.70.
Mining and energy stocks fell on concerns over slowing global growth, reflecting signs of weakness in Europe and a long-running trade war between the world’s two largest economies.
Mining heavyweights BHP and Rio Tinto slid around half a percent while energy stocks Woodside Petroleum, Oil Search, Origin Energy and Santos fell over 1 percent.
Retirement fund manager Challenger plunged more than 17 percent after it flagged a 97 percent drop in interim profit and also lowered its full-year outlook.
IOOF Holdings slumped 8.2 percent after the company repaid super fund members following an accidental sale of assets in 2015.
Seoul stocks finished modestly higher, with the benchmark Kospi closing up 0.47 percent at 2,127.78.
New Zealand shares ended little changed on diminished expectations for rate cuts after inflation data came in slightly higher than the median forecast expected by economists.
U.S. stocks fell overnight to snap a four-day winning streak, with renewed trade tensions, Brexit worries and global growth concerns keeping investors on the sidelines.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 1.2 percent, the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite tumbled 1.9 percent and the S&P 500 declined 1.4 percent.