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Nikkei Markets

Asian equities little changed as investors await trade deal clarity

Hindustan Unilever, CNOOC among movers on A300 index

HONG KONG (Nikkei Markets) -- Asian shares outside of Japan ended little changed on Tuesday amid tempered expectations over the progress in resolving the U.S.-China trade conflict.

The Nikkei Asia300 index edged 0.03% higher to close at 1,278.62.

Investors analyzed comments by U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and a report by Bloomberg in relation to the preliminary U.S.-China trade agreement reached last week.

Mnuchin told CNBC yesterday that he expected December tariffs on additional Chinese goods to take effect if a trade deal is not in place by then. He, however, did say that his expectations are that a deal will be reached before that time, pointing to the substantial progress was made last week.

Last Friday, the U.S. reached a preliminary agreement that suspended the October tariff increases on Chinese goods in exchange for China's purchases of American agricultural products. The agreement, expected to pave way for a more comprehensive deal, is expected to be signed next month.

However, Bloomberg reported yesterday that China wanted to hold more talks before an agreement is signed by President Donald Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in November.

China wanted the U.S. to cancel the planned December trade hike, one which Washington has yet to agree to.

"I have little doubt that both sides will get something over the line before a scheduled meeting of President's Xi and Trump next month," said Jeffrey Halley, a senior market analyst at OANDA.

The Shanghai Composite declined 0.6% on Tuesday and the Chinese yuan edged lower. An index of Chinese companies listed in Hong King closed 0.1% lower.

CNOOC fell 1.2%, leading mainland energy-related companies lower after Brent crude slipped by the most in two weeks yesterday. Among winners, Tencent Holdings added 0.2%.

Hindustan Unilever advanced 2.4% after the Indian consumer company's September quarter net profit exceeded estimates.

Wipro edged 0.1% higher ahead of its quarterly earnings. After market hours, the software services exporter reported a better-than-expected 35% on-year increase in the September-quarter net profit.

--Nimesh Vora

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