Asia Markets: Trade news keeps a lid on Asian stocks as holiday-week doldrums persist

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A U.S.-South Korea trade deal signed Monday in New York is expected to strengthen the relationship between the two countries, the presidents of each said. South Korean investors, however, will have to wait a day to weigh in on the reworked United States-Korea Free Trade Agreement as the stock market there was closed for a Tuesday holiday.

U.S. President Donald Trump and his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-In in a joint statement “reaffirmed our close alliance and the importance of maintaining strong, mutually beneficial trade and economic ties between our peoples.” They each directed trade officials “to move forward with additional steps, as required in our respective countries, to bring the updated agreement into force as soon as practicable.”

With Hong Kong also closed Tuesday, other Asian markets showed little reaction to the U.S.-Korea news.

Japan stocks have had the best start to the week in the region, bucking the wide declines seen in Asian equities Monday. The Nikkei NIK, +0.29%   was up 0.2% Tuesday.

Australian stocks XJO, -0.02%   were down 0.1% after falling less than some others in the region on Monday. On Tuesday a measure of Australian consumer confidence fell for the latest week, but remained above average. The ANZ-Roy Morgan Australian Consumer Confidence fell by 0.7%, partially reversing the rise of 1.5% in the previous week. The fall was due to the declines in sentiment regarding economic conditions and buying a major household item.

Chinese stocks were the biggest losers early Tuesday, with the Shanghai Composite SHCOMP, -0.58%   down 0.5%. Other Chinese benchmarks fell about 1% as investors fretted about a possible breakdown in U.S.-China trade talks.

Singapore STI, +0.56%   stocks rose with the Straits Times Index up 0.4% at 3231 as commodity and bank names move higher.

Malaysia’s stock index FBMKLCI, -0.14%   started Tuesday lower, extending its fall from a day earlier. The FBM KLCI Index declined 0.1% to 1,798.55 points, just below the 1,800-level that most analysts call a support level.

Dow Jones Newswires reports contributed to this story.

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