Benchmarks in London and Tokyo advanced while those in Frankfurt and Shanghai declined. Markets rose after Trump said Monday that Beijing was ready to talk seriously about a worsening tariff war over trade and technology following two weekend phone calls. But investors were left guessing after a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman couldn't confirm any exchange took place.
Investors are "finding it difficult to put a finger as to where the ongoing U.S.-China trade issue is headed," Jingyi Pan of IG said in a report. "The saying that we are a tweet (from Trump) away from the next trade escalation between U.S. and China had certainly grown to become the broad view."
In early trading, London's FTSE 100 gained 0.3% to 7,114.81 and Frankfurt's DAX fell 0.5% to 11,671.66. France's CAC 40 was off 5 points at 5,360.00. On Wall Street, the future for the benchmark Standard & Poor's 500 index was up 0.2% and that for the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.1%.
In Asia, the Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.3% to 2,893.76 and Tokyo's Nikkei 225 advanced 0.1% to 20,479.42. Hong Kong's Hang Seng retreated 0.2% to 25,615.48. Seoul's Kospi rose 0.9% to 1,941.09 and Sydney's S&P-ASX 200 gained 0.4% to 6,500.60. India's Sensex shed 0.5% to 37,450.81.
Taiwan, New Zealand and Jakarta advanced while Singapore retreated. On Tuesday, U.S. investors shifted money from stocks to government bonds, gold and other safe-haven assets. UBS, the world's largest wealth manager, recommended customers reduce their exposure to stocks, the first time the bank has done so since the depths of Europe's debt crisis in 2012.
The yield in the 10-year Treasury bond was below that of the two-year Treasury, an unusual phenomenon that has correctly predicted the five most recent recessions. The S&P lost 0.3% to 2,869.16. The Dow dropped 0.5% to 25,777.90. The Nasdaq slid 0.3% to 7,826.95.
U.S. and Chinese trade negotiators are due to meet next month in Washington, but neither side has given any indication of offering concessions to break a deadlock. A round of talks last month in Shanghai ended with no sign of progress.
Washington and Beijing fueled investor pessimism on Friday with an additional round of tit-for-tat tariff hikes. Their punitive duties on billions of dollars of each other's goods already have battered exporters on both sides and prompted forecasters to cut economic growth outlooks.
"There are no grounds to believe China will concede to a deal based on unilateral, lopsided demands under rising tariffs duress," Mizuho Bank said in a report. ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude gained 75 cents to $55.68 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose $1.29 on Tuesday to close at $54.93. Brent crude, used to price international oils, added 58 cents to $59.61 per barrel in London. It advanced 91 cents the previous session to $59.03.
CURRENCY: The dollar was little-changed at 105.77 yen. The euro held steady at $1.1092.