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Asia markets mixed amid renewed US-China tensions

Key Points
  • Major stocks markets in Asia were mixed on the day.
  • The White House said on Monday that trade talks between the two economic powerhouses will continue in Washington on Tuesday, with higher level negotiations starting later in the week.
  • Meanwhile, Beijing said Monday that the U.S. is attempting to curtail its technology development by claiming that Chinese mobile network gear might pose a cybersecurity threat to foreign countries which adopt the equipment.

Stocks in Asia were mixed on Tuesday amid renewed geopolitical tensions, with China accusing the U.S. of fueling cybersecurity fears.

Investors also awaited developments on the U.S.-China trade front. The White House said on Monday that trade talks between the two economic powerhouses will continue in Washington on Tuesday, with higher level negotiations starting later in the week.

Mainland Chinese markets were mostly unchanged, with the Shanghai composite rising slightly to close at 2,755.65 while the Shenzhen component saw fractional losses to finish the day at 8,440.87. The Shenzhen composite rose 0.184 percent to close at 1,443.60.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index slipped 0.28 percent in its final hour of trading. Hong Kong-listed shares of HSBC fell 1.48 percent after the bank announced 2018 earnings which missed expectations.

Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 0.1 percent to close at 21,302.65 and the Topix was 0.28 percent higher to finish its trading day at 1,606.52, as shares of index heavyweight Fast Retailing slipped 0.63 percent.

South Korea's Kospi declined 0.24 percent to close at 2,205.63.

The ASX 200 in Australia rose 0.28 percent to close at 6,106.90. Shares of health supplements company Blackmores, however, plummeted 24.85 percent after the company issued a weaker outlook for the second half of its fiscal year on the back of concerns over its sales in China.

Blackmores CEO Richard Henfrey told CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Tuesday the company was likely to deliver profits in the second-half that are "a little bit lower" as compared to the first-half, as a result of "softening" consumer sales in China but also due to investments across its markets.

"We're very confident in the long-term," Henfrey said.

Asia-Pacific Market Indexes Chart

Chinese accuses US of fueling cybersecurity fears

The Chinese government said Monday that the U.S. is attempting to curtail its technology development by claiming that Chinese mobile network gear might pose a cybersecurity threat to foreign countries which adopt the equipment.

The U.S. alleged that Beijing might use Chinese tech companies to gather intelligence about foreign countries, even though those claims have yet to be substantiated. U.S. President Donald Trump's administration has been putting pressure on the country's allies to shun networks supplied by Huawei, threatening the company's access to markets for next-generation wireless gear.

The company, the biggest global maker of switching gear for phone and internet companies, denies accusations it facilitates Chinese spying and said it would reject any government demands to disclose confidential information about foreign customers.

"So far no one has provided any physical evidence that there is, you know, a security threat," Stephane Teral, executive director of research and analysis at IHS Markit, told CNBC's "Street Signs" on Tuesday.

"If it comes down to (banning) Huawei where it has a very significant footprint, the cost is tremendous because you cannot remove, you know, any Huawei equipment and replace it overnight," Teral said.

Also on Monday, Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei told the BBC that the arrest of his daughter and chief financial officer of the company, Meng Wanzhou, was a "politically motivated act. "

Meng was arrested in Canada last December and currently faces possible extradition to the U.S., she was charged with bank and wire fraud to violate U.S. sanctions against Iran.

Currencies

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 96.893 after touching an earlier high of 96.935.

The Japanese yen traded at 110.66 against the dollar after seeing an earlier high of 110.44. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7116 after touching a low of $0.7104 earlier.

In the oil markets, international benchmark Brent crude futures were largely flat at $66.51 per barrel. U.S. crude futures gained 0.74 percent to $56.00 per barrel.

— Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.