Asia stocks mixed on possible US-China trade snag

Asian stock markets were mixed Wednesday after investors were rattled by a possible snag in a U.S.-Chinese trade truce following reports Beijing wants Washington to life punitive tariffs.

Shanghai and Sydney declined while Tokyo and Hong Kong advanced.

Beijing wants 15% tariffs imposed in September on $125 billion of Chinese imports removed as part of a “Phase 1” deal in talks aimed at ending a trade war that threatens global growth, according to news reports. There was no sign whether President Donald Trump would agree, which raised the possibility of a new breakdown in negotiations.

“We see it fit to temper optimism for now,” said Vishnu Varathan of Mizuho Bank in a report.

The Shanghai Composite Index declined 0.2% to 2,985.45 while Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 was up 12 points at 23,263.83. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was unchanged at 27,680.44 and Seoul’s Kospi was flat at 2,143.77.

Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 sank 0.2% to 6,682.30. Benchmarks in Taiwan and New Zealand declined while Singapore advanced.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Nasdaq closed at record highs Tuesday. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index closed just below the all-time high reached the previous day.

Gains have been driven by better-than-expected company earnings, interest rate cuts, hopes for a trade truce and a steadily growing economy.

The upbeat mood marks a pivot from the summer, when worries about trade, Britain’s potentially messy exit from the European Union and the slowing global economy loomed over the market.

The Dow rose 0.1% to 27,492.63. The S&P 500 fell 0.1% to 3,074.62. The Nasdaq composite added less than 0.1% to 8,434.68.

China’s central bank helped ease worries about a possible liquidity crunch by cutting its base interest rate on a one-year loan by 0.05% to 3.25%.

Analysts said the People’s Bank of China was fill demands for credit while keeping financial system risks under control.

“This is a small step towards future policy rate cuts, and it also signals that China’s central bank will finally start to follow other central banks in lowering its policy rate,” Citigroup economists said in a report.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude lost 31 cents to $56.92 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 69 cents on Tuesday to close at $57.23. Brent crude, used to price international oils, declined 37 cents to $62.59 per barrel in London. It gained 83 cents the previous session to close at $62.96.

CURRENCY: The dollar declined to 109.03 from Tuesday’s 109.16. The euro was little-changed at $1.1078.