Asian shares mostly fall as market eyes US-China trade talks

An investor walks in front of stock trading boards at a private stock market gallery in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Monday, July 29, 2019. Asian shares were mostly lower Monday as investors watched for developments in the trade conflict between the U.S. and China, with talks set to continue this week. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)
An investor walks in front of stock trading boards at a private stock market gallery in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Monday, July 29, 2019. Asian shares were mostly lower Monday as investors watched for developments in the trade conflict between the U.S. and China, with talks set to continue this week. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)

TOKYO — Asian shares were mostly lower Monday as investors watched for developments in the trade conflict between the U.S. and China, with talks set to continue this week.

Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 edged down 0.3% in early trading to 21,584.96. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.2% to 6,806.40. South Korea's Kospi lost 1.4% to 2,037.47. Hong Kong's Hang Seng slipped 0.8% to 28,161.35, while the Shanghai Composite inched down less than 0.1% to 28,161.35.

U.S. stocks were pushed to record heights and expectations have been growing about a U.S. interest rate cut. A government report on Friday also showed U.S. economic growth slowed in the spring, but it was still better than economists expected.

The S&P 500 index rose 22.19 points, or 0.7%, to 3,025.86 and passed its prior record set on Wednesday. The Dow Jones Industrial average gained 51.47, or 0.2%, to 27,192.45, and the Nasdaq composite also set a record after jumping 91.67 points, or 1.1%, to 8,330.21.

The European Central Bank earlier this week held its key interest rate steady, but it made clear that more stimulus is on the way. The Bank of Japan starts a two-day policy board meeting Monday, but expectations are for the central bank to keep rates unchanged.

In the United States, investors are all but certain the Fed will cut its benchmark short-term rate on Wednesday, likely by a quarter of a percentage point from its current range of 2.25% to 2.50%.

Weighing on regional investor sentiments is the dispute between the U.S and China, locked in a trade war over American allegations that Beijing is using predatory practices, including outright cybertheft, to challenge U.S. technological dominance.

"Trade talks and Fed policy actions will be the main events," for this week, according to a market report by Nomura.

ENERGY:

Benchmark U.S. oil fell 8 cents to $56.12 a barrel. It rose 18 cents to $56.20 a barrel on Friday. Brent crude, the international standard, dipped 19 cents to $63.18 a barrel.

CURRENCIES:

The dollar fell to 108.50 Japanese yen from 108.67 yen on Friday. The euro was little changed, slipping to $1.1132 from $1.1135.

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AP Business Writer Stan Choe contributed to this report.

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