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Asian shares pare gains as U.S.-China tensions intensify

U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday ordered an end to Hong Kong’s special status under U.S. law to punish China for what he called “oppressive actions” against the former British colony, prompting a warning from China.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was last up 0.14%, after rising over 1% earlier in the session.

Chinese shares were deep in red, with the blue-chip CSI300 index off 1% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index down 0.6%.

Japan’s Nikkei and Australia’s benchmark index remained upbeat though, and were up 1.4% and 1%, respectively.

E-mini futures for the S&P 500 gave back some of their gains but were still up 0.7%.

In a statement on Wednesday, China’s foreign ministry said Beijing will impose retaliatory sanctions against U.S. individuals and entities in response to the law targeting banks doing business with Chinese officials, though the statement released through state media did not reference Trump’s executive order.

“Hong Kong affairs are purely China’s internal affairs and no foreign country has the right to interfere,” the ministry said.

Overnight risk appetite was boosted by Moderna Inc’s experimental vaccine for COVID-19 which showed it was safe and provoked immune responses in all 45 healthy volunteers in an early-stage study.

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