Global stock markets edged higher on Tuesday, despite some disappointment that US President Donald Trump did not provide more positive signs on resolving multiple trade conflicts.

While he said in a highly-anticipated speech that a trade deal with China was "close," Trump also threatened to ramp up tariffs even further if no agreement is reached with Beijing.

Neither did he postpone tariffs on European-made cars, as a deadline for a decision falls Wednesday.

Wall Street produced modest gains for the broad S&P 500 but the Dow Jones Industrial average was flat -- a rare occurrence last seen four years ago.

With all eyes on his speech, Trump "delivered less-than-hoped-for commentary on US-China trade negotiations," Karl Haeling of LBBW said in a commentary.

"However, as long as the signs are positive, delays in formalizing the deal are not necessarily bad for risk assets and could actually be supportive," he said.

"Markets often perform better in the expectation phase than after confirmation when the details can get picked apart."

The British pound extended gains against the euro and dollar after Nigel Farage said he would not stand candidates in Conservative-held seats during next month's election
The British pound extended gains against the euro and dollar after Nigel Farage said he would not stand candidates in Conservative-held seats during next month's election AFP / Justin TALLIS

European markets ended higher amid reports Trump will avoid imposing tariffs on EU cars, which would spark another round of retaliation.

"The Trump administration has softened its stance in relation to the EU in recent months, which has been a factor in the rally in European stocks," said David Madden, analyst at CMC Markets UK.

Trump was to decide by mid-November whether to impose the supplementary tariffs on cars built in EU countries -- a step particularly feared by big German automakers.

The outgoing president of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker last week said he believed the United States would not impose new tariffs on imported European cars in the coming days.

In Asia, Hong Kong's main stocks index closed up 0.5 percent after heavy losses in the prior session, when the city was wracked by some of the worst violence seen during months of protests, with one person shot and another set on fire.

The city remains on edge -- with sporadic protests taking place on Tuesday -- while the United States expressed "grave concern" over the situation in Hong Kong and called for restraint by security forces and protesters.

"It is still very unclear what can de-escalate the situation," said National Australia Bank's Tapas Strickland.

"Nevertheless, for as long as Beijing gives Hong Kong latitude to deal with the protests, it is likely the unrest will only have an isolated impact on financial markets."

In foreign exchange deals Tuesday, the pound retreated against the dollar a day after winning support from news that the Brexit Party would not run against UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Conservatives in hundreds of seats at next month's general election.

Will he soften his trade rhetoric?
Will he soften his trade rhetoric? AFP / MANDEL NGAN

New York - Dow: UNCH at 27,691.49 (close)

New York - S&P 500: UP 0.2 percent at 3,091.84 (close)

New York - Nasdaq: UP 0.3 percent at 8,486.09 (close)

London - FTSE 100: UP 0.5 percent at 7,365.44 points (close)

Frankfurt - DAX 30: UP 0.7 percent at 13,283.51 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: UP 0.4 percent at 5,919.75 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.4 percent at 3,712.20 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 0.8 percent at 23,520.01 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 0.5 percent at 27,065.28 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.2 percent at 2,914.82 (close)

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2852 from $1.2855 at 2100 GMT

Euro/pound: DOWN at 85.63 pence from 85.83 pence

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1009 from $1.1033

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 108.97 yen from 109.05 yen

Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 0.3 percent at $62.00 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 0.1 percent at $56.78 per barrel