Asia follows US markets lower as investors watch trade talks

Asian stock markets were lower on Friday after Wall Street finished with losses overnight as investors watched the outcome of trade talks between the United States and China.

KEEPING SCORE: South Korea’s Kospi sank 1 percent to 2,461.38 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index lost 1 percent to 30,023.96. Shanghai Composite Index retreated 0.3 percent to 3,091.03. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 dropped 0.6 percent to 6,062.90. Japan was closed for a public holiday. Stocks in Taiwan were higher but in Singapore and Indonesia they were lower.

TRADE TALKS: U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the U.S. is having good discussions in trade talks in China ahead of a second day of meeting aimed at easing tensions. The dispute has deepened as China has stepped up efforts to overtake Western industry leaders in advanced technologies, especially for semiconductors. Analysts say chances for a breakthrough from the two-day meeting appear slim given the two sides’ intensifying rivalry in strategic technologies, where China lags behind the U.S.

ANALYST’S TAKE: “The U.S.-China trade meeting, which remains underway, would be another item packing risks ahead,” said Jingyi Pan, a market strategist at IG in Singapore.

WALL STREET: U.S. stocks finished lower on Thursday. The S&P 500 index slid 0.2 percent to 2,629.73. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 5.17 points, or less than 0.1 percent, to 23,390.15. The Nasdaq composite lost 0.2 percent to 7,088.15. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks fell 0.5 percent to 1,546.56.

OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude lost 13 cents to $68.30 per barrel on New York Mercantile Exchange. It rose 0.7 percent to $68.43 barrel in the previous session. Brent crude, the international standard, fell 17 cents to $73.45 per barrel in London. On Thursday, it rose 0.4 percent to $73.62 a barrel.

CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 109.06 yen from 109.21 yen. The euro weakened to $1.1965 from $1.1989.