Asian markets little changed despite U.S.-China trade deal

Asian markets were muted in early trading Monday despite Friday’s news that the U.S. and China have agreed on a “phase one” trade deal.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said Sunday that the deal “is totally done, absolutely,” adding that China committed to buy $40 billion of American farm products over the next two years. and promised to end its long-standing practice of pressuring companies to hand over their technology as a condition of market access. China on Sunday said it would postpone punitive tariffs against U.S.-made autos and other goods following the trade agreement.

“For now, escalation seems to be off the table. However, the path to the comprehensive agreement is still miles away,” Stephen Innes, chief Asia market strategist at AxiTrader wrote in a note Sunday. “Ultimately, [the] phase-one deal fell short of market expectations and is probably not enough to fully restore business confidence or generate a meaningful recovery in exports or investment.”

Japan’s Nikkei NIK, -0.29%  was about flat, and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index HSI, -0.52%  slipped 0.3%. The Shanghai Composite SHCOMP, +0.56%  rose slightly, while the smaller-cap Shenzhen Composite 399106, +1.56%  gained 0.8%. South Korea’s Kospi 180721, -0.10%  was little changed, while benchmark indexes in Taiwan Y9999, +0.10% , Singapore STI, -0.05%  and Indonesia JAKIDX, +0.41%  inched up. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 XJO, +1.63%  jumped 1.6%.

Among individual stocks, Yahoo Japan parent Z Holdings 4689, +3.24%  gained in Tokyo trading, as did convenience-store chain FamilyMart 8028, +2.21%  and SoftBank 9984, +1.55% . In Hong Kong, Sunny Optical 2382, +2.38%  and Galaxy Entertainment 27, +1.04%  rose, while AIA Group 1299, -1.63%  declined. Hyundai Motor 005380, -1.65%  fell in South Korea while BHP BHP, +1.63%  and Westpac WBC, +1.51%  advanced in Australia.

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