China defends trade record, promises more opening

China Says Its Trade Practices Benefit World

China eager to defuse trade pressures

Asian markets were mixed on Thursday, as White House statements on trade left investors divided on whether the administration was interested in soothing tensions with China.

Nevertheless, trade-sensitive assets including currencies continue to feel the heat - the Australian dollar weakened towards one-year lows hit recently and the New Zealand dollar touched seven month lows to the USA dollar. Britain's FTSE 100 climbed 0.4 percent to 7,539.

Germany's DAX was flat at 12,270 and France's CAC 40 added 0.3 percent to 5,298. Wall Street was poised for a subdued open. The S&P 500 index gained 0.2 percent to 2,723.06.

Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index dropped 0.4 percent to 22,177.58 and South Korea's Kospi lost 0.6 percent to 2,327.22.

The trade-sensitive Australian dollar earlier fell 0.3 percent to $0.7371, edging back towards last week's 13-month low of $0.7345.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX-50 index was rising 0.2 percent and remained on track to notch its first record closing high in two weeks.

China and the European Union (EU) agreed on Monday to launch a group that will work to update global trade rules to address technology policy, subsidies and other emerging irritants and preserve support for worldwide trade amid U.S. threats of import controls.

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Wang unveiled a report highlighting reforms China has taken since joining the World Trade Organization in 2001.He said Beijing has "carried out every promise" since joining the WTO. It didn't address complaints Beijing hampers access to promising industries and that plans to develop Chinese champions in electric cars and other industries violate its free trade commitments.

Yet President Donald Trump also endorsed a measured approach to restricting Chinese investments in U.S. He urged Congress to strengthen existing laws that apply to all foreign countries instead.

The state-owned China Daily newspaper, in a separate editorial on Wednesday, said US industries and workers could eventually "feel the pain" as Trump's policies were affecting global supply chains.

Four days after the European Union imposed tariffs on American motorcycles, bourbon, orange juice and other products in response to USA steel and aluminium tariffs, Lighthizer said there was no legal basis for the European Union response. Beijing responded to Washington's first round of hikes on USD34 billion of imports by raising duties on USA soybeans, whiskey and other products. "Dollar strength, a generalized concern about global growth, higher oil prices, none of this is helping", said Robert Carnell, head of research and chief economist at ING Bank.

USA crude oil futures settled at $72.76 a barrel, up $2.23, or 3.16 percent.

USA crude futures surged 3.16 percent on Wednesday, rising as high as $73.06 a barrel, the highest since November 28, 2014, on signs of tight supply. Brent crude, used to price global oils, added 62 cents to $76.93 per barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar edged down to 110.18 yen from 110.20 Japanese yen in late trading Wednesday. The euro weakened to $1.1623 from $1.1646.

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