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Asian markets flat, U.S.-China trade negotiations in focus

Investing.com – Asian equities were mixed in early morning trade on Tuesday, without clear directional drivers, and U.S. markets closed for the Labor Day holiday.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index continued along its downward trend at the opening but recovered from mild sessions early in the morning session. The index was up 0.13% to 25,662 as the city entered the second day of a two-day strike supported by a range of industrial sectors as social unrest entered its 14th week.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 was up 0.1% to 20,640 by 9:35 PM ET (01:35 GMT).

China’s Shanghai Composite was flat at the start of trade, down 0.01% to 2,923 while the Shenzhen Component was also flat at 9,569.

South Korea’s KOSPI was up 0.24% to 1,975 while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 was subdued but in the green, up 0.06% to 6,583.

Over the weekend, new U.S. tariffs on about US$110 billion worth of Chinese goods took effect as did retaliatory Chinese tariffs of 5% to 10% on a range of U.S. goods. Markets seemed to take this latest escalation of the trade war in their stride and trading was thin.

Still, on Monday, mainland China stocks got a bump after Beijing announced plans to keep “reasonably ample” liquidity, Bloomberg reported.

However, Bloomberg also reported that trade officials on both sides of the dispute have been struggling to schedule a meeting planned for later this month, a challenge that sent U.S. futures lower and the dollar to two-year highs.

Data from China out on Saturday also painted a gloomy outlook for the Chinese economy. Although the Caixin purchasing managers’ index (PMI) out on Monday suggested a surprise expansion of the economy with a reading of 50.4 for August and higher than the 49.8 expected by analysts polled by Reuters, the official PMI out on Saturday pointed to continued downward pressure with a reading for August of 49.5, down from 49.7 in July.

Investors are now looking toward a monetary policy decision from Australia out on Tuesday.

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