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Asia markets mixed, haunted by uncertainty on trade, Brexit

Asia markets mixed, haunted by uncertainty on trade, Brexit
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TOKYO -- Asian shares were mixed in lacklustre trading on Tuesday, as markets searched for a dominant theme, weighing currency fluctuations, signs of growing protectionism and other uncertainties.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan s benchmark Nikkei 225 slipped 0.3 per cent to 19,459.16 and Australia s S&P/ASX 200 was unchanged at 5,779.10. South Korea s Kospi added 1.1 per cent to 2,181.09. Hong Kong s Hang Seng rose 0.3 per cent to 24,585.50, while the Shanghai Composite added 0.2 per cent to 3,256.37.

WHAT S AHEAD: European markets mostly fell overnight after the British government said it will formally begin the process of leaving the European Union next week. Investors also are watching for elections in France and a European Central Bank meeting, both next month, while legislators in the U.S. debate the proposed Republican-backed health care law.

WALL STREET: The Standard & Poor s 500 index lost 0.2 per cent to 2,373.47. The Dow Jones industrial average was almost unchanged at 20,905.86. The Nasdaq composite was also flat, at 5,901.53.

THE QUOTE: "Markets are hard pressed to look for new and enduring themes. And none emerge; at least not compellingly so," said Vishnu Varathan, of the Singapore Treasury Division of Mizuho Bank.

TRADE WORRIES: Finance ministers and central bankers from the Group of 20 major economies dropped a pledge to eschew protectionism in a statement Saturday. The move came after pressure from the U.S. During his campaign President Donald Trump promised to rewrite trade deals, and he ditched the Trans-Pacific Partnership after taking office.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude added 19 cents to $49.10 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, rose 20 cents to $51.82 a barrel in London.
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