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Asia: Stocks weighed by Trump's trade remarks

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[HONG KONG] Equity markets were mostly lower with investors tracking comments from US President Donald Trump saying he wanted to strike a full trade deal with Beijing, knocking hopes for a piecemeal agreement between the economic superpowers.

"I'm not looking for a partial deal. I'm looking for a complete deal," he told reporters at the White House.

He added that he did not see the need for an agreement before the 2020 presidential election.

The remarks tempered recent optimism on the talks, though came as China hailed progress in preparatory discussions ahead of a planned high-level meeting next month.

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Market voices on:

"The hot and then cold and then hot and cold again US-China trade vibes continue to rattle markets," said Rodrigo Catril at National Australia Bank.

"Hopes of a potential interim trade deal had boosted sentiment ahead of last week's China's trade delegation visit to the US, but in the end it seems that the inability to find common ground in key contentious issues such as intellectual property rights resulted yet again in an increase in tensions."

In early trade Hong Kong fell 0.4 per cent with China's Fosun International losing 1.3 per cent after British travel giant Thomas Cook - in which it is the top shareholder - collapsed. The 178-year-old firm had went under after failing to secure £200 million (S$344 million) from private investors to keep it afloat.

Shanghai shed more than one per cent, while Singapore and Seoul each dropped 0.2 per cent. Taipei and Manila also fell, though there were small gains in Sydney, Wellington and Jakarta. Tokyo was closed for a holiday.

AFP