Asian markets tumbled on Friday after President Donald Trump said he doesn’t plan to meet Chinese leader Xi Jinping before a tariffs truce ends in March. Japan’s Nikkei 225 index was 2 percent lower at 20,333.17. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng, reopening after a Lunar New Year break, gave up 0.4 percent to 27,892.15. The Kospi in South Korea declined 1.2 percent to 2,177.05 and Australia’s S&P ASX 200 was down 0.3 percent at 6,071.50. Stocks fell in the Philippines, Indonesia and Singapore but rose in Malaysia. Markets in China and Taiwan were closed.
On Thursday, Mr. Trump did not dismiss the possibility of meeting Mr. Xi in the next month or so. But he shook his head and said no when reporters asked if the meeting would take place before March 2. That marks the end of a 90-day tariffs truce mooted after Mr. Trump and Mr. Xi met in December. Unless American and Chinese negotiators come to a new agreement, the U.S. is expected to raise import taxes from 10 percent to 25 percent for $200 billion in Chinese goods. The trade dispute between the world’s two largest economies, which has cooled in recent months, has weighed on the outlook of businesses and the global economy.
“The worries surround the uncertainties of a resolution to the likelihood of further tariffs in this on-again, off-again confidence with regards to a deal,” Jingyi Pan of IG said in a market commentary. U.S. Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin and trade representative Robert Lighthizer will lead a delegation to Beijing next week for the next round of trade talks. Officials have reported little progress on contentious issues but remain hopeful that a deal will be struck. In other news, Japanese electronics and entertainment company Sony announced its first 100 billion yen ($911.2 million) share buyback for 2.36 percent of its Tokyo-listed stock. Its shares were up by 5 percent in early trading.
WALL STREET: Stocks closed lower on Thursday following a sell-off by technology companies, health care stocks and banks. Twitter plunged almost 10 percent after issuing a weak forecast. The broad S&P 500 index shed 0.9 percent to 2,706.05. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was 0.9 percent lower at 25,169.53 and the Nasdaq composite slid 1.2 percent to 7,288.35. The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks dropped 0.8 percent to 1,505.63.
ENERGY: U.S. crude lost 42 cents to $52.22 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It dropped $1.37 to settle at $52.64 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, retreated 39 cents to $61.24 per barrel. It fell $1.06 to close at $61.63 per barrel in London.
CURRENCIES: The dollar weakened to 109.69 yen from 109.82 yen late Thursday. The euro eased to $1.1338 from $1.1341.