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Asian Equities Slip Despite “Positive” U.S.-China Trade Talk

Asian equities slipped in morning trade – Asian equities slipped in morning trade on Friday despite the ongoing conversation between U.S. and China was “fairly positive”, according to U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

Trade talks is expected to dominate Friday's agenda once again, as investors keep a close watch on whether the world’s two biggest economies could achieve a breakthrough on the tariff standoff during the second day of negotiations.

Mnuchin said on Friday that the two countries are having a “very good conversation, while a White House official added on Thursday that the atmosphere was “fairly positive”, although any real breakthrough would depend on China’s willingness to deliver its promises of economic change.

“What I heard from the first day, and again they’ve been there for a full day of negotiations, has been fairly positive,” Mark Calabria, chief economist to U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, said. “The difficulty will always be that we will most of the time hear pretty positive things from China and the question is whether they will actually do them. So that’s going to be the tough part.”

It is also reported that the U.S. requested China to lower its tariff rates to boost exports of American goods.

The merchandise trade gap with China widened by 16% to $91.1 billion in the first quarter, according to data released on Thursday.

The U.S. jobs data due later in the day is likely to be another focus for traders. Nonfarm payrolls are expected to increase by 192,000 jobs in April, after rising only 103,000 in March.

In Asia, Japan remain closed for a public holiday, while China’s Shanghai Composite and Shenzhen Component opened 0.2% and 0.1% lower respectively by 9:34PM ET (01:34 GMT). Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index slid 0.9%.

South Korea’s KOSPI also fell 0.7%. Index heavyweight Samsung Electronics (KS:005930) received some attention as the company’s shares, which account for around 20% of the KOSPI’s market capitalization, fell more than 1% after a 50:1 stock split.

Down under, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 was down 0.4%.

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