TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares were mostly lower Thursday amid investor jitters ahead of the latest round of trade talks between the U.S. and China.
Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 was down 1.3% in early trading to 21,333.22. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.4% to 6,291.60. South Korea’s Kospi dropped 1.0% to 2,145.82. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 1.6% to 28,549.70, while the Shanghai Composite shed 1.0% to 2,862.98.
On Wall Street, a late-afternoon reversal added to the market’s losses following a steep sell-off a day earlier as investors worry that the costly trade dispute between the world’s two biggest economies will escalate.
Financial markets turned volatile this week after President Donald Trump threatened to impose more tariffs on Chinese goods, a threat that is set to become reality early Friday. Negotiations between the U.S. and China are scheduled to continue in Washington on Thursday, and will include China’s top trade official.
The S&P 500 index fell 4.63 points, or 0.2%, to 2,879.42. The benchmark index had been up 0.5%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average inched up 2.24 points, or less than 0.1%, to 25,967.33. The Nasdaq composite dropped 20.44 points, or 0.3%, to 7,943.32. The Russell 2000 index of small company stocks slid 7.34 points, or 0.5% to 1,574.97.
“The pressure looks to continue amid the trade concerns found within the market with heightened volatility a new normal this week,” said Jingyi Pan, market strategist with IG in Singapore.
The U.S. and China have raised tariffs on tens of billions of dollars of each other’s goods in their dispute over U.S. complaints about China’s technology ambitions and practices.
Investors have been anticipating a deal throughout this year, which contributed to double-digit gains in all the major indexes. But the latest tough talk is raising anxiety on Wall Street and casting more doubt about a resolution.
The U.S. government has filed plans to raise tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports from 10% to 25% Friday. If it follows through on those plans, it would mark a sharp escalation in the yearlong trade dispute that has raised prices on goods for consumers and companies.
The Trump administration also has threatened to extend 25% tariffs to another $325 billion in Chinese imports, covering everything China ships to the United States.
The possibility that the trade dispute could escalate represents a marked shift from just a few weeks ago, when talks between the U.S. and China appeared to be on track for an agreement.