Hong Kong and Australia close out 2018 with annual declines – CNBC

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Hong Kong and Australia close out 2018 with annual declines – CNBC

Stocks in Asia were mixed on the final day of 2018, as most major markets around the globe were set to record calendar year declines.

China’s manufacturing activity in December contracted even more than expected, according to government data: The country’s official manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) came in at 49.4 — lower than the 49.9 analysts expected in a Reuters poll.

That was worse than November’s official manufacturing PMI, which was 50.0. A reading above 50 indicates expansion, while a reading below that signals contraction.

Official non-manufacturing PMI came in at 53.8 — higher than the reading of 53.4 in November. Economic data from China is being closely watched amid the ongoing trade war between Washington and Beijing.

In trade war news, U.S. President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Saturday and said that a “long and very good call” had taken place between himself and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

In the post, Trump also said: “Deal is moving along very well. If made, it will be very comprehensive, covering all subjects, areas and points of dispute. Big progress being made!”

Following the tweet, however, the Wall Street Journal reported that Trump “may be overstating how close the two sides are to an agreement,” citing sources “familiar with the state of negotiations.”

Trump’s comments came after both he and Xi earlier this month agreed to a 90-day pause in tariff escalation.

Currencies

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 96.452 after seeing highs above the 97 handle last week.

The Japanese yen, widely viewed as a safe-haven currency, traded at 110.41 after touching lows above 111.3 in the previous trading week. The Australian dollar was at $0.7061 after seeing highs above $0.707 last week.

— Reuters and CNBC’s Huileng Tan contributed to this report.

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