Asian Stocks End Mixed as Fears of Global Trade War Thicken

By Investors Hub

Asian stocks ended mixed on Wednesday as news of U.S. tariffs on washing machines and solar panels sparked fears of a global trade war.

Chinese shares hit fresh two-year highs on optimism about growth in 2018. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index climbed 14.23 points or 0.4 percent to end at 3,560.73, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index inched up 27.99 points or 0.1 percent to 32,958.69.

Australian shares also closed higher as gains by financials and energy stocks outweighed losses in the mining sector. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index and the broader All Ordinaries Index both ended up by 0.3 percent at 6,054.70 and 6,168.80, respectively.

Banks ANZ, NAB and Westpac eked out modest gains, while Commonwealth shed 0.8 percent. Insurer QBE soared 5.4 percent on expectations that the company is working on improving its return on equity by selling non-core and underperforming assets.

Medical equipment maker ResMed jumped 2.8 percent to extend Tuesday’s rally. Energy majors Woodside Petroleum, Santos and Oil Search climbed 1-3 percent after Brent crude prices surged towards $70 a barrel for the first time in a week.

Weaker base metal prices pulled material stocks lower, with BHP Billiton, Fortescue Metals Group and Rio Tinto all ending down about 0.4 percent.

Meanwhile, Japanese shares fell as the dollar dropped below the 110 yen threshold for the first time in four months, triggering selling in exporters. Weaker- than- expected Japanese trade data for December also dented sentiment.

The Nikkei 225 Index dropped 183.37 points or 0.8 percent to 23,940.78, while the broader Topix Index closed half a percent lower at 1,901.23.

Fanuc Corp tumbled 3.7 percent, Sony lost over 5 percent and Tokyo Electron declined 1.7 percent. Banks Mizuho Financial, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group retreated 1-2 percent. Among the gainers, Mitsui Fudosan and Pacific metals advanced 2-3 percent.

Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan.

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