Asian Stocks Finish Lower on Escalating Trade Tensions

By Investors Hub

Asian stocks ended mostly lower on Friday in response to escalating trade tensions and the release of weak Chinese data.

U.S. President Donald Trump has announced new tariffs on all goods coming from Mexico in an effort to curb illegal immigration to the U.S.

In a tweet, Trump said that beginning June 10, a 5 percent tariff would be imposed and would slowly rise until the situation is resolved.

Chinese shares fell modestly as Chinese manufacturing activity for the month of May missed expectations. The official manufacturing PMI dropped to 49.4 from 50.1 in April.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite index slipped 7.11 points or 0.2 percent to 2,898.70, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index fell 213.79 points or 0.8 percent at 26,901.09.

Japanese shares tumbled as the yen strengthened and Germany’s benchmark medium-term government bond yield hit the lowest level on record. Meanwhile, a slew of Japanese data released today proved to be a mixed bag.

The Nikkei 225 Index plunged 341.34 points or 1.6 percent to 20,601.19, while the broader Topix closed 1.3 percent lower at 1,512.28.

Automakers were among the major losers. Mazda Motor lost 7.1 percent, Isuzu Motors declined 4.9 percent, Nissan Motor slumped 5.3 percent, Honda Motor plummeted 4.3 percent and Toyota Motor declined 2.9 percent.

Industrial output in Japan rose a seasonally adjusted 0.6 percent in April, exceeding expectations for an increase of 0.2 percent following the 0.6 percent decline in March.

The total value of retail sales in Japan came in roughly flat sequentially on a seasonally adjusted basis in April, missing expectations for an increase of 0.6 percent and down from the 0.2 percent gain in March.

The unemployment rate in Japan came in at a seasonally adjusted 2.4 percent in April. That was in line with expectations and down from 2.5 percent in March.

Overall consumer prices in the Tokyo region were up 1.1 percent year-on-year in May. That was shy of expectations for an increase of 1.2 percent and down from 1.4 percent in April.

Meanwhile, Australian shares ended little changed with a positive bias as Trump threatened to impose new tariffs on Mexico if the country does not step up its enforcement actions.

Mining heavyweights ended mixed, while pharma heavyweights such as Cochlear and CSL advanced 1.7 percent and 0.9 percent, respectively.

Gold miner Evolution Mining soared 5.5 percent and Newcrest added 2.5 percent after gold prices rose to a two-week high. St Barbara slumped 5.9 percent after slashing its 2019 gold production outlook.

Energy stocks Origin Energy, Oil Search, Santos and Woodside Petroleum dropped 1-2 percent after crude oil prices tumbled almost 4 percent overnight.

Crown Resorts plunged 3 percent after casino mogul James Packer sold nearly half his stake in the firm to Hong Kong’s Melco Resorts & Entertainment Ltd., dampening hopes for a full buyout.

Seoul stocks edged up slightly as the Bank of Korea kept its benchmark interest rate unchanged amid increased uncertainties concerning economic growth outlook. The benchmark Kospi inched up 2.94 points or 0.1 percent to 2,041.74.

Industrial production in South Korea climbed a seasonally adjusted 1.6 percent in April, Statistics Korea said today – down from 2.1 percent in March. On a yearly basis, industrial production eased 0.1 percent after sliding 2.3 percent in the previous month.

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. Mr Olowookere can be reached via dipo.olowookere@businesspost.ng

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