BEIJING -- World shares dropped Thursday as anxiety mounted over the possibility the U.S. and China may not reach a trade deal before next year.
China’s Commerce Ministry batted away rumors that the talks were in trouble with a spokesman saying Beijing was committed to continuing discussions on core concerns.
In Asia, Hong Kong’s benchmark Hang Seng index fell 1.6% to 26,466.88. The Shanghai Composite index lost 0.3% to 2,903.64 while Japan’s Nikkei 225 gave up 0.5% to 23,038.58.
Several reports suggest the U.S. and China are struggling to reach a preliminary “Phase 1” trade pact and might not be completed this year.
Investors have been hoping the world's two biggest economies can reach a deal before new and more damaging tariffs take effect Dec. 15 on about $160 billion in Chinese imports. Those duties would cover smartphones, laptops and other consumer goods.
Doubts over the talks had also grown after U.S. Congression passed resolutions expressing support for human rights in Hong Kong, where political protests have dragged on for months.
Beijing wants Washington to first agree to broader tariff rollbacks on Chinese goods.
Concerns about the trade war have helped weaken the world economy and on Thursday the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said it expects global growth this year to be 2.9%, the lowest since the financial crisis. It expanded 3.5% last year.
“Two years of escalating conflict over tariffs, principally between the U.S. and China, has hit trade, is undermining business investment and is putting jobs at risk,” it said in its report.
Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea’s Kospi dropped 1.4% to 2,096.60 and Australia’s S&P ASX 200 lost 0.7% to 6,672.90. In India, the Sensex edged 0.1% higher to 40,673.75.
In other trading, benchmark crude oil shed 21 cents to $56.80 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude oil, the international standard, gave up 26 cents to $62.14.
The dollar edged up to 108.61 Japanese yen from 108.59 yen on Wednesday. The euro rose to $1.1083 from $1.1075.