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Asian Stocks Mixed as Investors Await Chinese Reaction to U.S.-China Tensions

By Gina Lee – Asian stocks were mixed on Wednesday morning with Chinese markets returning from a five-day holiday.

Investors were cautious as they monitored Chinese reaction to accusations from top U.S. officials that the COVID-19 virus originated in a Wuhan lab.

"There is a distinct risk-off tone to greet China coming back from holiday," Stephen Innes, chief global markets strategist at AxiCorp, told Reuters.

"With Trump and the company still on the Wuhan Lab rampage, traders are incredibly cautious this morning, weighing all the possible China responses. And the one that would hurt the most would be for China to reduce imports of U.S. oil."

Stocks got a boost from oil’s surge in the previous session after the American Petroleum Institute (API) predicted an 8.12- million-barrel-increase in crude oil inventories.

China’s Shanghai Composite slid 0.08% by 11:19 PM ET (4:19 GMT). Meanwhile, the Shenzhen Component gained 0.06%.

South Korea’s KOSPI was up 1.10% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index gained 0.66%.

Down Under, the ASX 200was down 0.58% even after the Bureau of Statistics said on Wednesday that Australia’s retail turnover in March rose 8.5%.

Investors were also urging caution after some countries loosening their COVID-19 lockdowns on Monday as fears of a second wave of the virus continued to mount.

“As we ease these lockdowns there remains the risk that of course you then have to tighten up the controls,” Andrew Wilson, chairman of global fixed income at Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) Asset Management, said in a Bloomberg interview.

“It is absolutely dependent on what happens with respect to infection rates and whether there is the so-called second wave,” he said of the market and economic outlook. 


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