Asian shares lower as investors await Fed chair's speech

FILE - This July 21, 2020 file photo shows the New York Stock Exchange.  Stocks are drifting close to their record heights in early trading on Wall Street Tuesday, Aug. 25,  after the United States and China indicated some progress in trade talks.   (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)
FILE - This July 21, 2020 file photo shows the New York Stock Exchange. Stocks are drifting close to their record heights in early trading on Wall Street Tuesday, Aug. 25, after the United States and China indicated some progress in trade talks. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

TOKYO – Asian shares were mostly lower Wednesday after a lackluster session on Wall Street following talks between the United States and China on the status of a deal meant to work as truce in their trade war.

The market has meandered recently on snippets of news about the coronavirus, developments on a potential vaccine for it and other concerns. But the global economy is still hurting overall, with airlines running at a fraction of their capacities and restaurants still mostly empty.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 dipped nearly 0.2% to 23,254.30 in morning trading. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 lost 1.0% to 6,098.70. South Korea’s Kospi slipped 0.6% to 2,352.35. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng edged 0.1% higher, to 25,514.41, while the Shanghai Composite inched up less than 0.1% to 3,374.87.

Markets are getting “a mixed bag” of signals, such as relatively positive U.S. home sales but a disappointing read on consumer confidence, as fears of more waves of COVID-19 infections persist, said Hayaki Narita, of the Asia & Oceania Treasury Department at Mizuho Bank.

“Depending on your point of view, data and developments may be encouraging or gloomy,” he said.

Stocks were mixed on Wall Street Tuesday, but gains were strong enough for tech companies and other pockets of the market to carry the S&P 500 to its fourth straight gain and another record high.

The benchmark index rose 0.4% to 3,443.62, even though slightly more stocks within it sank than rose. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.2%,to 28,248.44, and the Nasdaq composite rose 0.8% to 11,466.47.

A report showed consumer confidence unexpectedly dropped this month, contrary to economists’ forecast for an improvement. But another report said sales of new homes accelerated faster than economists expected last month.