SHANGHAI, China — China's stock markets weakened on Wednesday amid doubts whether the country will be able to settle trade differences with the United States before the 90-day deadline expires, and as new data showed a worsening business outlook.
At the midday break, the Shanghai Composite index was 0.2 percent down at 2,660.25 points. China's blue-chip CSI300 index edged 0.04 percent lower, with its financial sector sub-index down by 0.24 percent and the real estate index up 1.61 percent, rebounding from a sharp fall on Tuesday. Shares in the consumer staples sector rose 1.1 percent, with Tencent-backed Yonghui Superstores touching a five-week high after the supermarket chain operator, backed by Tencent and JD.com, said it is planning a deal with a unit of Wanda Group.
China's commerce ministry said on Wednesday that Beijing and Washington will push forward with trade negotiations in the next 90 days and that it is confident that an agreement can be reached, amid growing scepticism that the two sides will be able to reach a substantive deal on a host of highly divisive issues before the deadline. US President Donald Trump on Tuesday held out the possibility of an extension of the 90-day trade truce with China but warned he would revert to tariffs if the two sides could not resolve their differences.
China's services sector grew at its quickest pace in five months in November due to an uptick in new orders, a private survey released showed, although the outlook for businesses over the next year worsened for the third month.
Chinese H-shares listed in Hong Kong fell 1.35 percent to 10,760.06, while the Hang Seng Index slipped 1.54 percent to 26,840.05. The smaller Shenzhen index was unchanged for the day and the start-up board ChiNext Composite index was higher by 0.85 percent. Around the region, MSCI's Asia ex-Japan stock index was weaker by 1.44 percent, while Japan's Nikkei index edged 0.75 percent lower. The yuan was quoted at 6.8675 per U.S. dollar, 0.44 percent weaker than the previous close of 6.8375.
The largest percentage gainers in the main Shanghai Composite index were Taiyuan Chemical Industry Co Ltd, which rose as much as 10.05 percent, followed by Anhui Zhongyuan New Materials Co Ltd, which gained 10.04 percent and Xinhua Winshare Publishing and Media Co Ltd, which gained 10.03 percent. The largest percentage losses in the Shanghai index were Luxin Venture Capital Group Co Ltd, which dropped 10.02 percent, followed by Minfeng Special Paper Co Ltd , which lost 10.01 percent and Zhejiang Langdi Group Co Ltd, which fell 10 percent.
So far this year, the Shanghai stock index is down 19.39 percent, while China's H-share index is down 6.8 percent. Shanghai stocks have risen 3 percent this month. The top gainers among H-shares were Huaneng Power International Inc, which gained 2.2 percent, followed by China Vanke Co Ltd, which climbed 1.48 percent and Guangdong Investment Ltd, which rose 1.4 percent. The three biggest H-shares percentage decliners were Guangzhou Automobile Group Co Ltd, which fell 5.13 percent, Great Wall Motor Co Ltd, which lost 3.6 percent and Dongfeng Motor Group Co Ltd, which slipped 3.4 percent.
In Hong Kong, the sub-index of the Hang Seng index tracking energy shares, slipped as much as 2.1 percent, while the IT sector fell up to 2.1 percent. The top gainer on the Hang Seng was Want Want China Holdings Ltd, which climbed 2.93 percent, while the biggest loser was Sunny Optical Technology Group Co Ltd, which was down 6.70 percent.
By Andrew Galbraith; editor: Sherry Jacob-Phillips.