Asian Shares Fall After Trump’s Trade War Threats

Asian stocks ended broadly lower on Friday after media reports suggested that U.S. President Donald Trump is eager to push ahead with higher tariffs on Chinese exports as soon as next week.

Trump’s threat to pull out of the World Trade Organization and his comments that the European Union is “possibly almost as bad as China” when it comes to trade, also stoked fears of a worsening trade war.

Chinese stocks fell as renewed concerns over the U.S.-China trade spat overshadowed positive economic data.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite index ended down 12.49 points or 0.46 percent at 2,725.25 while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index fell 0.98 percent to 27,888.55.

The manufacturing sector in China continued to expand in August, and at a slightly faster rate, the latest survey from the National Bureau of Statistics showed with a PMI score of 51.3. That beat expectations for a score of 51.0 and was up from 51.2 in July.

The non-manufacturing PMI came in at 54.2 – also exceeding expectations for 53.7 and up from 54.0 in the previous month.

Japanese shares finished marginally lower as jitters over emerging market currencies persisted and a slew of economic data painted a mixed picture of the economy.

Japan’s industrial output dropped marginally in July and the unemployment rate rose marginally from a month earlier, while the annual core consumer inflation held steady in the month, separate reports showed.

The Nikkei average ended down 4.35 points at 22,865.15, snapping an eight-day rally on increasing fears of a further escalation of a trade war between the U.S. and China. The broader Topix index closed 0.22 percent lower at 1,735.35.

Exporters Toyota Motor, Panasonic and Honda Motor dropped 1-2 percent while lender Mitsubishi UFJ Financial fell 1.8 percent and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial gave up 1 percent.

Commodity-related stocks such as Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp and Sumitomo Metal Mining fell around 2 percent. Fujitsu advanced 1.7 percent after announcing a share buyback.

Australian markets finished modestly lower, with telecom stocks pacing the decliners, a day after TPG Telecom and Vodafone Hutchison Australia announced they would merge in a deal that could shake up the country’s telecommunications sector.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index dropped 32.30 points or 0.51 percent to 6,319.50 while the broader All Ordinaries index ended down 32.70 points or 0.51 percent at 6,427.80.

TPG Telecom plunged 7.2 percent and Telstra lost over 4 percent. BHP Billiton declined 1.7 percent and Rio Tinto shed 0.6 percent as iron ore prices fell more than 2 percent after Trump’s latest threat that the U.S. would pull out of the World Trade Organization (WTO) if the international trading group does not “shape up”.

Harvey Norman Holdings gave up 4.5 percent after the retailer reported a 16 percent drop in annual profit. Toll road operator Transurban entered a trading halt ahead of a A$4.8 billion capital raise.

Seoul stocks closed higher after the release of improved manufacturers’ data from China. The benchmark Kospi gained 15.53 points or 0.67 percent to close at 2,322.88. Market heavyweight Samsung Electronics rallied 1.7 percent while Posco dropped 1.8 percent and Korea Zinc declined 2.8 percent.

New Zealand shares ended off their day’s lows, with the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index closing down 26.68 points or 0.29 percent at 9,313.20.

Consumer confidence is New Zealand ebbed in August, the latest survey from ANZ Bank revealed – slipping 0.7 percent to a score of 117.6 following a 1.3 percent slide in July.

Overnight, U.S. stocks fell to snap a four-day winning streak. The Dow dropped half a percent, the tech-heavy Nasdaq slid 0.3 percent and the S&P 500 declined 0.4 percent.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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