Asian markets settle after rallying on US-China trade hopes

Specialist Matthew Greiner works at his post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019. Stocks are opening higher on Wall Street, putting the market on track for a fourth gain in a row. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Trader Gregory Rowe works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019. Stocks are opening higher on Wall Street, putting the market on track for a fourth gain in a row. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Specialist Mark Fitzgerald, left, and trader Jeffrey Vazquez work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019. Stocks are opening higher on Wall Street, putting the market on track for a fourth gain in a row. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Specialist Anthony Rinaldi, left, and trader Fred DeMarco work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019. Stocks are opening higher on Wall Street, putting the market on track for a fourth gain in a row. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Specialist Thomas McArdle, left, and trader Robert Charmak work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019. Stocks are opening higher on Wall Street, putting the market on track for a fourth gain in a row. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

SINGAPORE — Asian markets were mostly lower Thursday as U.S. and Chinese officials wrapped up three days of talks in Beijing without significant breakthroughs.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan's Nikkei 225 index, which closed up 1.1 percent on Wednesday, retreated 1.4 percent to 20,141.93. The Kospi in South Korea dropped 0.1 percent to 2,062.49. Hong Kong's Hang Seng shed 0.3 percent to 26,394.06, while the Shanghai Composite index was flat at 2,545.05. Australia's S&P ASX 200 lost 0.3 percent to 5,759.80. Shares fell in Taiwan but rose in Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines.

WALL STREET: Stocks rose for the fourth consecutive session after American and Chinese negotiators extended their talks to a third day. Traders took this as a positive sign, but a partial government shutdown at home that appeared far from being resolved limited gains. The S&P 500 index added 0.4 percent to 2,584.96. The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 0.4 percent to 23,879.12 and the Nasdaq composite was 0.9 percent higher at 6,957.08. The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks rose 0.9 percent to 1,438.81.

U.S.-CHINA TALKS: Official statements released after the talks, which lasted a day longer than planned, did not indicate if progress was made on a tariffs battle that has shaken global financial markets. China's Ministry of Commerce said there were "detailed exchanges" and both sides would "maintain close contact," without offering specifics. A statement from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative said negotiators will "report back to receive guidance on the next steps." The talks come after President Donald Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping met and agreed to hold off on more tariffs for 90 days, on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Argentina last month. Investors are hopeful that more and higher-level negotiations will follow.

ANALYST'S TAKE: "While there was agreement on less thorny issues such as agriculture and energy, U.S. demands for verification and enforceable targets on intellectual property rights, transfer of technologies and non-tariff barriers may not be that easily addressed," DBS Group Research strategists Eugene Leow and Neel Gopalakrishnan said in a commentary.

ENERGY: Oil prices settled after hitting their highest levels in almost a month. U.S. crude, which has jumped 15 percent in 2019, dropped 52 cents to $51.84 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It surged 5.2 percent to $52.36 per barrel on Wednesday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gave up 54 cents to $60.90 per barrel. It climbed 4.6 percent to $61.44 a barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar strengthened to 107.90 yen from 108.15 yen late Wednesday. The euro rose to $1.1565 from $1.1543.

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