Asian stocks mostly lower ahead of US-China summit

April 4, 2017
FILE - In this Monday, Aug. 24, 2015, file photo, a man walks towards the New York Stock Exchange. Stocks are edging higher in early trading on Wall Street, Monday, April 3, 2017, with the biggest gains going to materials and industrial companies. The early gains follow a solid first quarter for U.S. stocks. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Asian stock markets were mostly lower on Tuesday after disappointing U.S. car sales data contributed to a bleak day on Wall Street. Investors are cautiously awaiting President Donald Trump’s meeting with the Chinese president later this week.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan’s Nikkei 225 fell 0.6 percent to 18,866.99 as the yen gained against the U.S. dollar. South Korea’s Kospi slipped 0.1 percent to 2,164.38. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.2 percent to 5,860.30. Southeast Asian shares were mixed. Markets in Hong Kong and Shanghai were closed for public holidays.

WEAK CAR SALES: Automakers including Ford and General Motors reported disappointing sales for March in a sign that does not bode well for U.S. consumer spending. U.S. auto sales fell for a third straight month, by 1.6 percent to just over 1.55 million vehicles, as passenger car sales dropped. Analysts had expected a small increase.

XI-TRUMP MEETING: Trump and Chinese President Xi, leaders of the world’s two largest economies, are expected to discuss North Korea, trade, U.S. jobs and other geopolitical and economic issues when they meet for the first time for a two-day bilateral meeting on Thursday and Friday. Trump’s past comments have raised concern over the potential for conflict, though some analysts see room for compromise and positive outcomes.

ANALYST’S VIEWPOINT: “We head into Tuesday trade with a distinct risk-off vibe, although the moves in equities are probably best described as a ‘drift,’ rather than a ‘spike’ lower,” Chris Weston, chief market strategist at IG, said in a commentary.

WALL STREET: The Standard & Poor’s 500 index sank as much as 18 points, but finished down just 3.88 points, or 0.2 percent, at 2,358.84. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 0.1 percent to 20,650.21 and the Nasdaq composite shed 0.3 percent to 5,894.68. The Russell 2000 index of small-company stocks fell 1.2 percent to 1,369.67.

OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude added 1 cent to $50.25 per barrel in New York. The contract lost 36 cents to close at $50.24 a barrel on Monday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained 2 cents to $53.14 a barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar slipped to 110.57 yen from 110.92 yen while the euro was steady at $1.0671.