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Asian markets down as attention turns back to trade talks

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16th-May-2018       
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AFP, Hong Kong :
Asian markets fell on Tuesday as trade moves back into view with China and the US holding more high-level talks this week, while oil prices edged higher as tensions in the Middle East simmer.
A recent run-up in equities over the past week has also led to profit-taking with Hong Kong turning lower after six straight days of gains.
US markets rose again as Chinese Vice Premier Liu He-President Xi Jinping's right-hand man on economic issues-headed to Washington on Tuesday for a new round of talks aimed at heading off a trade war between the economic giants.
There are hopes the two sides can hammer out an agreement to end a spat that has seen both sides threaten tariffs on billions of dollars of goods.
Donald Trump's call to help get Chinese telecom equipment maker ZTE "back into business fast" soothed nerves, while Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Monday he was exploring "alternative remedies" for the firm, which was in April banned from buying crucial US technology for seven years.
"China is reportedly close to removing tariffs on agricultural products in exchange for relief for ZTE," said Stephen Innes, head of Asia-Pacific trade at OANDA. "It helps explain why President Trump said he'd work with President Xi on this company."
The talks come as US officials try to reach agreements with Canada and Mexico on revising their three-way trade pact, while EU steel tariff exemptions are due to end on June 1.
Hong Kong was 0.8 percent lower after racking up gains of more than five percent over the previous six sessions, while Tokyo ended the morning slightly down.
Shanghai was marginally down, while Sydney and Singapore each shed 0.4 percent, Seoul gave up 0.6 percent and Taipei dipped 0.2 percent.

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