Sydney — Asian shares dithered on Wednesday and the dollar jumped to an almost one-and-a-half-year top as risk assets rowed back amid conflicting signals on prospects for de-escalating the China-US trade dispute. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan see-sawed between positive and negative territory and last was flat. Australian and South Korean stocks were both down 0.2%. Japan’s Nikkei gained 0.7%. Chinese indices shed small early gains. The blue-chip index was flat. Asian markets had slipped on Tuesday after US President Donald Trump told the Wall Street Journal it was “highly unlikely” he would accept China’s request to hold off on a planned increase in tariffs to 25% from 10%. However, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow sought to brighten the mood by confirming a dinner powwow between Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping at an upcoming Group of 20 (G20) gathering in Argentina. He also held open the possibility that the two countries would rea...

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