Asia markets mixed amid investor caution after Wall Street slump

  • Asia markets were mixed on Wednesday amid shaky investor confidence after steep losses on Wall Street overnight.
  • In the oil markets, crude prices fell by almost 7 percent on Tuesday after seeing four days of gains.

Asia markets were mixed on Wednesday afternoon amid shaky investor confidence after steep losses on Wall Street overnight.

Greater China markets gained, with Hong Kong's Hang Seng index rising 0.23 percent in afternoon trade. The Shanghai composite rose 0.21 percent to close at around 2,651.51. The Shenzhen composite added 0.544 percent to end its trading day at about 1,386.43.

The moves in China came after the U.S. said on Tuesday that Beijing has failed to change its "unfair, unreasonable" practices at the core of the trade spat between the two economic powerhouses.

The findings were issued in an update of the U.S. Trade Representative's investigation into China's intellectual property and technology transfer policies, which sparked Washington's recent tariffs on Chinese exports.

The report comes ahead of an expected meeting in the coming weeks between U.S. President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping at the G-20 meeting in Buenos Aires, Argentina on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1.

Most analysts say a deal is unlikely to transpire during the meeting.

"I think it's probably too early to expect a deal but I think what we can expect is ... some sort of agreement to move forward," Ken Peng, Asia investment strategist at Citi Private Bank told CNBC on Wednesday, citing the example of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to Washington D.C., where a framework for negotiations was achieved.

"I think with China ... the ultimate deal comes but takes longer," he added.

Most of Asia lower

Elsewhere in Asia, however, stocks were mainly lower. Japan's Nikkei 225 fell 0.35 percent to close at 21,507.54 and the Topix index shed 0.6 percent to end at 1,615.89. South Korea's Kospi fell 0.29 percent to close at 2,076.55.

Stocks in Australia also saw losses. The ASX 200 fell 0.51 percent to close at 5,642.8, with the sectors mixed. The heavily weighted financial subindex recovered from earlier losses to see gains of 0.2 percent.

Supermarket chain Coles, which was spun off from conglomerate Wesfarmers, saw a market debut in Australia which was above expectations, beginning trade at A$12.49 (approx $9.02) per share. The stock ended the trading day Down Under at A$12.75 per share (approx $9.23).

Wesfarmers shares closed largely flat.

Coles' public debut in Australia underlined confidence in the nation's No.2 supermarket chain even as it faces fierce competition in the supermarket sector from both offline and online rivals.

Symbol
Name
Price
 
Change
%Change
NIKKEI
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HSI
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ASX 200
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SHANGHAI
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KOSPI
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CNBC 100
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Oil prices sink

Crude prices nosedived by nearly 7 percent on Tuesday after seeing four days of gains.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate settled Tuesday's session lower by $3.77, or 6.6 percent, at $53.43. The contract fell as low as $52.77 on Tuesday, its weakest price level since October 2017.

Brent crude dropped $4.43, or 6.6 percent, to $62.36 a barrel by 2:15 p.m. ET Tuesday, after earlier dropping to $61.71, a low going back to December 2017.

In Asian trade, U.S. crude futures rose 1.59 percent to trade at $54.28 per barrel. Brent also gained 1.22 percent at $63.29 per barrel.

Oil-related stocks in Asia were mostly lower. Australia's Santos shed 4.35 percent while Beach Energy plunged 10.69 percent.

In Japan, Inpex fell 3.26 percent while JXTG shed 1.22 percent. Japan Petroleum Exploration declined by 0.98 percent. The losses also spread to South Korea's oil companies, with S-Oil falling 2.21 percent and SK Innovation seeing losses of 0.49 percent.

China's oil sector was not spared from the sell-off either, as PetroChina shares fell 1.53 percent and China Petroleum & Chemical declined by 1.82 percent.

Currencies

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 96.682 after seeing an earlier high around 96.87.

The Japanese yen, widely seen as a safe haven currency, was at 112.86 against the greenback after touching a high of 112.61 earlier. The Australian dollar traded at $0.7236 after seeing highs above $0.729 in the previous session.

Dow dissolves gains for 2018

Overnight on Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 551.80 points to close at 24,465.64 while the S&P 500 lost 1.8 percent to finish the trading day stateside at 2,641.89.

Following Tuesday's stock market rout, the Dow and S&P 500 are now down 1.03 percent and 1.19 percent, respectively, for 2018.

The Nasdaq Composite, meanwhile, shed 1.7 percent to 6,908.82 on Tuesday.

Tuesday's declines came a day after members of the popular "FAANG" stocks — Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google-parent Alphabet — all closed in bear market territory, down more than 20 percent from their 52-week highs.

— Reuters, CNBC's Fred Imbert and Tom DiChristopher contributed to this report.