Stock market today: Asia follows Wall St lower as US, Chinese foreign ministers meet

BEIJING — Asian stock markets followed Wall Street lower Monday after the top U.S. and Chinese diplomats agreed to cooperate during a meeting held at a time of friction over an array of conflicts.

Shanghai, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Seoul retreated. Sydney gained. Oil prices fell by almost $1.

Wall Street’s benchmark S&P 500 index lost 0.4% on Friday after the Federal Reserve held its benchmark lending rate steady but warned last week it might be raised later if needed to cool inflation.

On Sunday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang held what the Chinese government called “candid, in-depth and constructive talks” at a time when relations are at their lowest point in decades. They indicated willingness to cooperate on major issues but did not indicate there was any progress on disputes over Taiwan, human rights, technology and security.

“Whether that will lead to any actual positive outcomes still awaits to be seen,” said Yeap Jun Rong of IG in a report. “Any inaction on that front could still see any optimism fizzle out eventually.”

The Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.3% to 3,262.59 and the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo shed 0.3% to 33,591.82. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong fell 0.6% to 19,915.51.

The Kospi in Seoul retreated 0.8% to 2,605.46 while Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 gained 0.4% to 7,277.70. New Zealand, Singapore, Jakarta and Bangkok also declined.

On Friday, the S&P 500 declined to 4,409.59 but closed out a fifth straight weekly gain. It is near a 14-month high following a 15% rise this year.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 0.3% to 34,299.12. The Nasdaq composite fell 0.7% to 13,689.57.

Humana dropped 3.9% for one of the S&P 500’s sharpest losses after becoming the latest health insurer to warn about rising costs because of pent-up demand for medical services. Health insurance giant UnitedHealth issued a similar warning earlier.

Last week, the Fed held its benchmark lending rate steady, the first time in 10 straight monthly meetings it hasn’t announced an increase.

The Fed warned, however, that it could raise rates as often as two more times this year. Wall Street is betting on a rate hike at its next meeting on July 25-26.

A survey Friday suggested U.S. consumers are also paring back their expectations for upcoming inflation. The preliminary reading from the University of Michigan survey also suggested consumer sentiment is strengthening more than expected.

Chemical company Cabot slumped 8.1% after it said soft demand worldwide, and especially in China, will hurt profits this year.

Software maker Adobe rose 0.9% after reporting solid financial results and raising its profit forecast.

In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude lost $1 to $70.93 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York mercantile Exchange. The contract rose $1.16 on Friday to $71.78. Brent crude, the price basis for international oil trading, declined $1.16 to $75.45 per barrel in London. It gained 94 cents the previous session to $76.61.

The dollar rose to 141.93 yen from Friday’s 141.80 yen. The euro edged down to $1.0939 from $1.0943.