Asian stocks fall in muted trading amid trade uncertainty

Men walk past an electronic stock board showing Japan's Nikkei 225 index at a securities firm in Tokyo Tuesday, May 15, 2018. Asian shares were mostly lower in muted trading Tuesday amid continuing uncertainty over trade tensions between China and the U.S. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
A man walks past an electronic stock board showing Japan's Nikkei 225 index and other country's in index at a securities firm in Tokyo Tuesday, May 15, 2018. Asian shares were mostly lower in muted trading Tuesday amid continuing uncertainty over trade tensions between China and the U.S. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
A man walks past an electronic stock board showing Japan's Nikkei 225 index at a securities firm in Tokyo Tuesday, May 15, 2018. Asian shares were mostly lower in muted trading Tuesday amid continuing uncertainty over trade tensions between China and the U.S. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
A man walks past an electronic stock board showing Japan's Nikkei 225 index at a securities firm in Tokyo Tuesday, May 15, 2018. Asian shares were mostly lower in muted trading Tuesday amid continuing uncertainty over trade tensions between China and the U.S. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
A man walks past an electronic stock board showing Japan's Nikkei 225 index at a securities firm in Tokyo Tuesday, May 15, 2018. Asian shares were mostly lower in muted trading Tuesday amid continuing uncertainty over trade tensions between China and the U.S. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

TOKYO — Asian shares were mostly lower in muted trading Tuesday amid continuing uncertainty over trade tensions between China and the U.S.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 is basically flat at 22,862.79 after morning trading. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 lost 0.3 percent to 6,116.00. South Korea's Kospi slipped 0.6 percent at 2,460.62. Hong Kong's Hang Seng dropped 0.9 percent to 31,250.22, while the Shanghai Composite edged down 0.2 percent to 3,167.09.

CHINA FACTOR: President Donald Trump tweeted Sunday that he was working with President Xi Jinping of China to put Chinese telecom ZTE "back into business, fast" after U.S. sanctions threatened ZTE's existence and 70,000 Chinese jobs. Vice Premier Liu He is scheduled for talks in Washington aimed at heading off the ongoing dispute. Washington has proposed imposing tariffs on up to $150 billion in Chinese products. In retaliation, Beijing is threatening tariffs on $50 billion in U.S. products.

WALL STREET: The S&P 500 index added 2.41 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,730.13 on Monday. The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 68.24 points, or 0.3 percent, to 24,899.41. The Nasdaq composite rose 8.43 points, or 0.1 percent, to 7,411.32. Small-company stocks fell. The Russell 2000 index lost its early gains, sliding 6.45 points, or 0.4 percent, to 1,600.34.

THE QUOTE: "Looking at Asian markets, despite the positive leads, key markets are virtually expected to commence flat, likely with caution setting in," said Jingyi Pan, market strategist at IG in Singapore.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude oil inched up 1 cent to $70.97 a barrel. It rose 26 cents to $70.96 a barrel in New York Monday. Brent crude, used to price international oil, gained 2 cents to $78.25 a barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 109.71 yen from 109.53 yen late Monday. The euro weakened to $1.1935 from $1.1974.

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