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Asian stocks struggle for direction without more progress on a US-China trade deal

Stocks in Asia struggled for direction Wednesday as investors received mixed signals ahead of another round of US tariffs on Chinese goods expected December 15.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 dropped 0.2%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index seesawed in early trading. It was last up 0.1%.

South Korea’s Kospi also veered between small gains and losses. It was last up 0.3%.

China’s Shanghai Composite briefly dipped into the red, but then inched up 0.1%.

The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that American and Chinese negotiators are working to delay the next round of duties. But White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said later that the decision will ultimately be up to President Donald Trump.

“I’ve got no indication that he’s going to do anything other than have a great deal and put the tariffs on,” Navarro said on Fox Business.

US futures were all down a little more than 0.1% during Asian trading hours.

The next round of tariffs will hit about $155 billion of Chinese-made products, notably consumer goods.

China, meanwhile, has said it wants to strike a deal. On Monday, Ren Hongbin, the country’s assistant minister of commerce, said China hopes a result “satisfying both sides” can be achieved “as soon as possible.” His remarks came after China announced worse-than-expected export data for November, mostly because of plunging shipments to the United States.

CNN