Asia Markets

Asia markets mixed as NAFTA talks and US-China trade tensions remain in focus

Key Points
  • Asia markets were mixed on Wednesday following another round of record highs on Wall Street overnight.
  • On Tuesday, Canada's Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland arrived in Washington to resume trade negotiations on the future of NAFTA following the announcement of a deal being reached between the U.S. and Mexico.

Asia markets were mixed on Wednesday afternoon after the Nasdaq and S&P 500 hit another record high on Wall Street overnight as trade fears eased.

Japan's Nikkei 225 ended the trading day up by 0.15 percent at 22,848.22 after hitting an earlier high of 22,968.18. The country's shipping sector extended its gains from the previous day by 2.88 percent. South Korea's Kospi also closed higher by 0.26 percent to end at 2,309.03.

The ASX 200 was up by 0.75 percent to close at 6,352.2 after trading largely flat in the earlier part of the day. Construction materials and building products supplier Boral's stock ended the trading day up by 10.12 percent on the back of news that its full year net profit after tax rose 48.5 percent to A$441 million ($324 million).

The mainland China markets ended the trading day in negative territory. The fell by 0.31 percent to close around 2,769.30 while the fell 0.56 percent to close at 1,489.29. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index pared earlier losses to trade near flat as of 3:00 p.m. HK/SIN, even as the information technology sector fell around 1.1 percent.

Canada's Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland arrived in Washington on Tuesday to resume talks about the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a day after the U.S. and Mexico announced that they had agreed to a new trade deal.

Some strategists say the "breakthrough" in NAFTA negotiations may not benefit everyone.

"I would say it is a positive on some selected part(s)" of the equity markets, said Frank Benzimra, head of Asia equity strategy at Societe Generale, on CNBC's "Street Signs," pointing to the Japanese and Korean automakers as examples of sectors which may gain from the trade deal.

"If we look at the broader market and what it mean(s) for China, then the picture is unclear because we are still in a state of a big uncertainty, of a radical uncertainty on what the next step is going to be," he added, in reference to the ongoing trade dispute between Washington and Beijing.

Overnight, the S&P 500 extended its gains to close at another record high of 2,897.52 after crossing the 2,900 mark earlier in the day for the first time. The Nasdaq Composite, which also saw another all-time high and rose 0.1 percent to 8,030.04. The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 14.38 points to 26,064.02.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of currencies, traded higher at 94.835 at 3:03 p.m. HK/SIN after touching an intraday low of 94.688 earlier.

The Japanese yen remained largely flat against the dollar at 111.21 yen while the Australian dollar was down by 0.44 percent at $0.7305 at 3:05 p.m. HK/SIN.

In the oil markets, global benchmark brent crude futures traded at $75.98 a barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures traded near flat at $68.49 a barrel.

– Reuters contributed to this report.