Asia Pacific stocks mixed as Washington ups the pressure on China’s Huawei

Stocks in Asia Pacific were mixed in Tuesday afternoon trade as investors continued to watch developments in U.S.-China tensions.

Mainland Chinese stocks edged higher by the afternoon, with the Shanghai composite up 0.42% while the Shenzhen component advanced 0.362%.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index gained 0.15%.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 fell 0.27% while the Topix index slipped fractionally. Over in South Korea, where stocks returned to trade following a Monday holiday, the Kospi dipped 0.14%.

Shares in Australia edged higher, with the S&P/ASX 200 up 0.78%. The Reserve Bank of Australia said there was “no need to adjust the package of measures in Australia in the current environment,” according to meeting minutes released Tuesday.

“Board members recognised that the substantial, coordinated and unprecedented easing of fiscal and monetary policy in Australia was helping to sustain the economy through this difficult period,” the minutes said.

Overall, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index advanced 0.43%.

Tensions between Washington and Beijing are likely to continue to weigh on investor sentiment. U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration announced Monday a further tightening of restrictions on Huawei, aimed at limiting the Chinese telecommunications giant’s access to commercially available chips. 

That development came after Trump issued an executive order Friday forcing China’s ByteDance to sell or spin off its U.S. TikTok business within 90 days. A source told CNBC that enterprise software giant Oracle is in talks to acquire TikTok’s U.S., Canadian, Australian and New Zealand assets. The interest from Oracle puts it at odds with Microsoft, which has been in talks to acquire the same TikTok assets for more than a month.

“This step-up in US antagonism towards Chinese tech sector may have further to run given Trump is on record warning of more Chinese tech firms (including Alibaba) in the cross-hairs,” Vishnu Varathan, head of economics and strategy at Mizuho Bank, wrote in a note.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was last at 92.672 after seeing an earlier high of 92.821.

The Japanese yen traded at 105.64 per dollar after strengthening from levels above 106.4 against the greenback yesterday. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7218 after yesterday’s rise from below $0.72.

Oil prices dipped in the afternoon of Asian trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures down 0.35% to $45.21 per barrel. U.S. crude futures shed 0.47% to $42.69 per barrel.

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