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Asian shares slip, looming U.S.-China trade talks in focus

Reuters  |  SYDNEY 

By Swati Pandey

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Asian shares started the week on the backfoot as investors were unable to shake off worries about global growth, U.S. politics and the Sino-U.S. trade war, keeping the safe-haven dollar well bid near a six-week top against major currencies.

Chinese shares see-sawed on Monday after they resumed trading following a week-long Lunar New Year holiday. The blue-chip index was last up 0.4 percent, Australian stocks were down 0.6 percent while eased 0.2 percent.

That left MSCI's broadest index of shares outside off 0.1 percent after it was toppled from a four-month top on Friday.

Trading volumes are expected to be light with on public holiday.

Investors are now looking ahead to trade talks this week with a delegation of U.S. officials travelling to for the next round of negotiations.

"After we went home on Friday, Asian equities closed the week weaker... reflecting an increased level of apprehension on whether or not the U.S. and can find an agreement to de-escalate their trade tensions ahead of the March 1st deadline," said Rodrigo Catril, at National Australia

"U.S.-led trade uncertainty along with increasing concerns over the extent of the current global growth slowdown has seen an increase in demand for core global bonds," Catril said.

"Against a backdrop of uncertainty and despite a Fed that is comfortably on hold, the dollar continues to win the least ugly contest."

The has signalled patience on policy after it delivered four hikes in 2018, citing growing economic risks from a slowdown in global growth.

The dollar index held near a six-week high around 96.625 against a basket of currencies, after notching up its strongest weekly gain in six months as traders piled into the greenback in a safe-haven move.

The collapse in talks between U.S. Democrat and Republican lawmakers over the weekend amid a clash over immigrant detention policy raised fears of another government shutdown.

That development was yet another worry for markets already under strain from a drumroll of gloomy on the global Last week, the sharply downgraded zone growth for this year and next and U.S. added to the anxiety with a declaration that he had no plans to meet with Chinese before the March 1 deadline to achieve a trade deal.

"Growth is probably the big area of risk - the U.S. is still on a healthy track but stabilisation is more hope than reality at the moment while European momentum continues to soften," analysts said in a note.

"Investors have plenty to be nervous about, including the ongoing growth softness in and the risk this drags the other major geographies down with it."

The rising pressure on growth means the near term fortunes of the equity markets will partly depend on earnings from These include Coca-Cola Co, PepsiCo Inc, Walmart Inc, Home Depot Inc, and for further clues about the health of the consumer sector.

Analysts now expect first-quarter earnings for S&P 500 companies to decline 0.1 percent from a year earlier, which would be the first such quarterly profit decline since 2016, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Elsewhere, the was barely changed at $1.1324 after five straight days of losses took it to more than 2 weeks lows. Sterling dithered at $1.2934.

The Australian dollar inched up from Friday's one-month lows although sentiment was still cautious after the country's central opened the door to a possible rate cut.

slipped on concerns about slowing global demand amid a pick-up in U.S. drilling activity.

U.S. crude was 73 cents weaker at $51.99 per barrel while Brent fell 69 cents to $61.41.

(Editing by & Shri Navaratnam)

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, February 11 2019. 08:23 IST