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James Hyerczyk
Asian Shares Post Two-Sided Trade

The major Asia Pacific stock indexes went for a wild ride on Thursday before turning higher for the session as investors reacted to two major developments ahead of the start of high level talks between the United States and China.

Early in the session, shares were sent sharply lower after the South China Morning Post reported that high level trade negotiations including Chinese Vice Premier Liu He would be cut to one day. Later, Bloomberg News reported that the U.S. was considering an agreement to suspend next week’s tariff increase in exchange for a currency pact.

At 08:17 GMT, Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index was trading 21551.98, up 95.60 or +0.45%, South Korea’s KOSPI Index was at 2028.15, down 18.10 or -0.88% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index was trading 25700.84, up 18.03 or +0.07%.

In China, the Shanghai Index was trading 2947.71, up 22.85 or +0.78, and in Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 Index finished at 6547.10, up 0.40 or +0.01%.

US and China Make No Progress

Early in the session on Thursday, the major indexes plunged after the South China Morning Post reported that deputy-level trade talks between the United States and China aimed at laying the groundwork for high-level negotiations later this week failed to yield any progress on critical issues, according to two sources with knowledge of the meetings.

During the discussions on Monday and Tuesday in Washington, the Chinese refused to talk about forced technology transfers, and also skirted the issue of state subsidies. Furthermore, Chinese negotiators spent the time focusing on only two areas:  agricultural purchases and intellectual property protection.

“They have made no progress,” said another source familiar with the talks, adding that the Chinese side had not made headway in persuading US negotiators to consider a freeze on tariff increases, a main priority for Beijing.

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High-Level Talks May Only Last One Day

The SCMP also reported that the Chinese delegation is planning to leave Washington on Thursday after just one day of principal-level talks, said another source. Beijing’s negotiating team, headed by Vice-Premier Liu He, had previously planned to leave Washington late on Friday, allowing for up to full days of talks.

Markets Rebound on Huawei Concessions Report

After the sharp break early in the session, Asian shares mounted a powerful comeback rally to turn higher for the day after the New York Times reported Wednesday evening stateside that U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration is set to grant licenses that would allow American firms to sell nonsensitive supplies to Huawei.

Earlier this year, the White House banned sales to the Chinese telecommunications giant, citing national security concerns. The ban was subsequently delayed by the administration to allow American firms to make other arrangements.

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