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ASIA MARKETS: Stocks Gain In Japan, But Trade Tensions Weigh On Hong Kong, Mainland China

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05/17/2019 | 09:19am EDT

By Marketwatch and Associated Press

Sony leaps on buyback news

Asian markets were mostly lower Friday, with stocks in Hong Kong and mainland China retreating amid ongoing trade tensions with the U.S.

An executive order by the Trump administration, aimed at banning Huawei equipment from U.S. networks, took effect on Thursday. The order also subjects the Chinese telecommunications giant to strict export controls. China has threatened to retaliate. It remains to be seen how the move will affect trade negotiations.

On Thursday, China's Commerce Ministry said it had no knowledge of a resumption in trade talks, according to the Wall Street Journal (https://www.wsj.com/articles/china-says-it-doesnt-know-about-u-s-plans-for-beijing-trade-talks-11558006892?mod=searchresults&page=1&pos=5), contradicting U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, who said Wednesday that negotiations were likely to resume in Beijing "in the near future."

A spokesman for the Commerce Ministry said this week's escalation of tariffs on Chinese goods has "severely hampered" negotiations, the Journal reported. Comments also reportedly (https://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy/article/3010614/show-sincerity-or-cancel-trade-talks-chinese-state-media-tells) showed up on a social media account linked to China's state-run Economic Daily newspaper. The blog on Taoron Notes said: "If there is no real concrete action by the United States, it will be meaningless for you to come and talk," in reference to Mnuchin's plan.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index closed down 1.1%, and the Shanghai Composite slid 2.5%. Japan's Nikkei rose 0.9%, but South Korea's Kospi fell 0.7%. Taiwan's Taiex gave up 0.9%, and stocks declined in Singapore and Indonesia . Australia's S&P/ASX 200 advanced 0.6%.

Among individual stocks, Sony surged in Tokyo trading after announcing it would buy back $1.83 billion (https://www.cnbc.com/2019/05/17/sony-shares-after-announcing-share-buyback-partnership-with-microsoft.html) of its own stock. Earlier in the day, Sony also announced a partnership with Microsoft for artificial intelligence and direct-to-consumer entertainment . SoftBank Group and Honda also rose. In Hong Kong, China Mobile gained while Sunny Optical and food processor WH Group declined. Chip maker SK Hynix advanced in South Korea. In Australia, Rio Tinto and Beach Energy rose.

Benchmark U.S. crude gained 33 cents to $63.20 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It picked up 85 cents to $62.87 per barrel on Thursday. Brent crude , the international standard, added 5 cent to $72.67 per barrel.

   The dollar   fell to 109.62 Japanese yen from 109.85 yen late Thursday. 

Stocks mentioned in the article
ChangeLast1st jan.
BEACH ENERGY LIMITED -1.70% 2.31 End-of-day quote.74.72%
CHINA MOBILE LIMITED 0.15% 66.15 End-of-day quote.-11.15%
CHINA-SHANGHAI COMP -1.32% 2938.14 End-of-day quote.17.63%
HANG SENG 0.12% 26740.24 Real-time Quote.3.34%
HONDA MOTOR CO., LTD. -0.03% 2908.5 End-of-day quote.3.88%
KOSPI COMPOSITE INDEX 0.19% 2063.13 Real-time Quote.0.87%
MICROSOFT CORPORATION -1.63% 137.41 Delayed Quote.35.29%
NIKKEI 225 0.25% 22548.9 Real-time Quote.12.18%
RIO TINTO PLC 1.34% 4019.5 Delayed Quote.6.21%
S&P/ASX 200 0.04% 6652.5 Real-time Quote.18.39%
SK HYNIX INC End-of-day quote.
SOFTBANK GROUP CORP. 0.09% 4299 End-of-day quote.-38.63%
SONY CORPORATION -0.94% 6449 End-of-day quote.25.27%
SUNNY OPTICAL TECHNOLOGY (GROUP) COMPANY LIMITED 1.28% 118.8 End-of-day quote.70.69%
US DOLLAR / JAPANESE YEN (USD/JPY) 0.07% 108.468 Delayed Quote.-1.17%
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