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Asian Stocks Mixed, With Record U.S. Markets Run Marred By U.S.-China Tensions

Stock MarketsAug 18, 2020 10:58PM ET
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By Gina Lee – Asian stocks were mixed on Wednesday morning, with escalating U.S.-China tensions overshadowing another record session for the U.S. markets on Tuesday.

China denounced the U.S’ latest moves that  further restricted Huawei Technologies’ access to commercially available chips. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian called them “nothing short of bullying” during a press conference on Tuesday.

The U.S. State Department also advised colleges and universities throughout the country to divest any Chinese holdings in their endowments via a letter on Tuesday. The letter also warned of more onerous measures for institutions choosing to hold onto the shares.

Meanwhile, Trump also indicated on Tuesday that he postponed the trade talks between U.S. and Chinese officials due to have taken place on August 15. 

“I canceled talks with China... I don’t want to talk to China right now,” he said, also adding that China’s handling of the COVID-19 situation is “unthinkable.”

China’s Shanghai Composite was down 0.42% by 10:50 PM ET (3:50 AM GMT) and the Shenzhen Component fell 0.91%.

Down Under, the ASX 200 rose 1%. Australia signed a deal on Tuesday with British drugmaker AstraZeneca (NYSE:AZN) to produce and distribute enough doses of its potential COVID-19 vaccine AZD1222, which is being developed by University of Oxford and licensed to AstraZeneca.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that the deal encompassed enough doses for Australia’s population of 25 million, but Health Minister Greg Hunt added that medical panel will determine the priority list of vaccine recipients.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 edged up 0.19% and South Korea’sKOSPI rose 0.63%. Korea reported 297 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, the highest number since early March and a sixth straight day of triple-digit increases as the country struggles to curb an outbreak in Seoul.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index's Wednesday morning session was cancelled due to a typhoon.

But some investors remain optimistic.

“We have a Federal Reserve that is all in, keeping rates low probably across the curve for as far as the eye can see... that is supportive of higher valuations.” Katie Nixon, chief investment officer at Northern Trust (NASDAQ:NTRS) Wealth Management, told Bloomberg.

Minutes from the latest Fed policy meeting are due to be released later in the day.

Hopes are also slightly up for a U.S. Congress deal for the latest stimulus package, after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi indicated that Democrats could cut their stimulus proposal in half to reach a consensus with Republicans. But Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill reportedly clarified that Pelosi was referring to her previous stance of meeting Republicans “halfway, not cutting our bill in half.”

Asian Stocks Mixed, With Record U.S. Markets Run Marred By U.S.-China Tensions

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