By Investors Hub
Asian stocks closed on a muted note Friday as trade war concerns resurfaced and investors looked ahead to the release of U.S. jobs data for May.
China’s Shanghai Composite Index fell 20.01 points or 0.7 percent to 3,075.46 even as global index provider MSCI Inc. added around 230 mainland-listed Chinese stocks to its flagship Emerging Markets Index and other indexes. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index inched up 24.35 points or 0.1 percent to 30,492.91.
On the data front, Chinese manufacturing activity expanded at a steady pace in May, survey data from IHS Markit showed. The Caixin Purchasing Managers’ index remained unchanged at 51.1, while analysts expected the index to rise to 51.2.
Japanese shares ended a choppy session slightly lower as fears of a global trade war resurfaced and U.S. President Donald Trump downplayed the chances of reaching a quick resolution with North Korea.
The Nikkei 225 Index swung between gains and losses before ending down 30.47 points or 0.1 percent at 22,171.35. The broader Topix Index finished marginally higher at 1,749.17.
While market heavyweight Fast Retailing dropped 1.7 percent, automaker Mazda Motor rose 1.2 percent and Toyota Motor climbed 2.9 percent on a weaker yen.
Olympus Corp soared 4.0 percent after activist investor ValueAct Capital became a major shareholder in the medical equipment and camera maker.
Earlier in the day, upon arrival for a meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors of the Group of Seven advanced economies, Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda called for “rational” debate to prevent protectionist trade measures from disrupting the global economy.
On the data front, the latest survey from Nikkei revealed that the manufacturing sector in Japan continued to expand in May, albeit at a slower rate, with a manufacturing PMI score of 52.8.
Separately, a government report showed that capital spending in Japan grew 3.4 percent in the first quarter of 2018, exceeding expectations for 3.1 percent but slowing from 4.3 percent in the previous three months.
Australian shares fell modestly, with banks falling heavily as ANZ faced criminal cartel charges relating to 2015 equity placement.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index dropped 21.50 points or 0.4 percent to 5,990.40, while the broader All Ordinaries Index ended down 19.50 points or 0.3 percent at 6,104.
ANZ shares fell 1.5 percent, while the other three major banks ended down between 0.4 percent and 0.9 percent. Mining heavyweight Rio Tinto, which has aluminum smelters in Canada, shed 0.6 percent.
Woodside Petroleum, Santos, Oil Search and Beach Energy all fell around 1 percent after crude oil prices declined almost 2 percent overnight.
Meanwhile, healthcare stocks bucked the weak trend, with Cochlear climbing 3.7 percent and Sonic Healthcare closing up 1 percent.
Australian manufacturing activity maintained strong growth momentum in May despite easing from April, survey data published by the Australian Industry Group showed. The corresponding index dropped to 57.5 from 58.3 in the previous month.
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