Asian shares ease slightly, investors twitchy before Trump-Xi meet

Asian shares twitched either side of flat on Friday reflecting investors’ nervousness ahead of talks between U.S. President Donald Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping that could determine whether the Sino-U.S. trade war gets any worse.

Victor Huang, head of investment strategy at Guotai Junan International in Hong Kong, said markets would be “much more volatile” next week if the two leaders failed to de-escalate their tariff war in talks due to take place on the sidelines of a G20 summit in Argentina this weekend.

By afternoon trade, MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down 0.2 per cent as an official survey pointed to a slowdown in China’s manufacturing sector.

The index was still set for its best month since January as it bounced from a bruising October.

Shares in Europe looked set for a shaky start.

Spreadbetters CMC Markets expect the FTSE 100 to open 0.04 per cent lower at 7,035, but the DAX is seen opening 0.2 per cent higher at 11,325 and the CAC 40 up 0.3 per cent at 5,020.

In Japan, the Nikkei ended 0.4 per cent higher, while Korean shares dropped 0.8 per cent after the country’s central bank lifted its policy interest rate in a widely expected decision.

Chinese blue-chips advanced 1 per cent despite a survey showing China’s factory growth stalled for the first time in more than two years in November.

The weak manufacturing growth reinforced expectations that Beijing will roll out more economic support measures – a factor that has helped to prop up battered Chinese stocks recently.

U.S. S&P e-mini futures ticked down 0.13 per cent, pointing to a weaker Wall Street session on Friday after a mixed overnight performance.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.11 per cent, the S&P 500 lost 0.22 per cent,

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