Asian markets mixed in lackluster trading

TOKYO — Shares were mixed Tuesday in Asia in mostly narrow trading in the absence of any major market-driving news.

The Nikkei 225 index NIK, +0.26%  added 0.2%. China’s Shanghai Composite index SHCOMP, +1.11%  was up 0.1% and the Hang Seng index HSI, +0.63%  in Hong Kong was about flat. South Korea’s Kospi SEU, +0.05%  swung between slight gains and losses, and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 XJO, +0.34%  rose 0.4%. Benchmark indexes in Taiwan Y9999, +0.21% , Singapore STI, +0.15%  and Indonesia JAKIDX, +0.46%  advanced.

Among individual stocks, telecoms NTT Docomo 9437, +3.65%  and SoftBank Corp. 9434, +3.32%  rose in Tokyo trading, as did Sony 6758, +2.57%  and Fast Retailing 9983, +2.15% . In Hong Kong, China Life Insurance 2628, +2.36%  and Ping An Insurance 2318, +1.78%  rose, while Apple component-maker Sunny Optical 2382, -3.02%  fell. Asiana Airlines 020560, +15.93%  surged for a second day in South Korea after its largest shareholder said it would sell its stake. Beach Energy BPT, -2.09%  fell in Australia.

Upbeat talk from the White House on trade negotiations with the China failed to lift Chinese shares. Meanwhile, China’s central bank, The People’s Bank of China, said it was adjusting its monetary policy to coordinate with government spending.

Earlier, Bank of Japan Gov. Haruhiko Kuroda said trade protectionism is the biggest risk to the global economy, CNBC reported.

“Market moves have become more muted ahead of the Easter holidays, while liquidity is also expected to be poorer,” Mizuho Bank said in a commentary. “PBOC stated that some positive changes are seen in structural adjustments of the economy in the first quarter, but uncertainties remain,” it said.

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 index edged lower, weighed down by bank shares after Goldman Sachs said it’s off to a “muted start to the year,” even though its earnings for the first quarter still beat analysts’ expectations. Citigroup also slipped following its earnings report, as banks lead off a quarterly reporting season that analysts expect to be the weakest in nearly three years.

The S&P 500 SPX, -0.06%  lost 0.1% to 2,905.58. The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -0.10%  fell 0.1% to 26,384.77 and the Nasdaq composite COMP, -0.10%  lost 0.1% to 7,976.01.

The S&P 500 remains within 0.9% of its record following a torrid start to the year, after the Federal Reserve said it may not raise interest rates at all in 2019.

Optimism has also grown that the U.S. and China can resolve their trade dispute. U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Saturday that the world’s two largest economies were moving closer to an agreement.

The yield on the 10 year Treasury note held steady at 2.55%. It has been climbing since late last month, when it fell to 2.37% amid a crescendo of worries that global economic growth was slowing.

The price of oil gave back some of its big gains for the year. Benchmark U.S. crude oil CLK9, -0.14%  fell 7 cents to $63.33 per barrel. It fell 49 cents to settle at $63.40 on Monday. Brent crude LCOM9, -0.27% , the international standard, fell 17 cents to $71.01. Both remain up more than 30% for the year.

The dollar USDJPY, -0.07%  slipped to 111.96 Japanese yen from 112.01 yen.

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