Asia markets mixed as US-China trade war remains in focus

  • Asia markets were mixed in the final trading day of the week.
  • The U.S. was expected to place tariffs on an additional $200 billion worth of Chinese goods at 12:00 p.m. HK/SIN. However, as of 12:48 p.m. HK/SIN, the United States Department of Commerce has not issued a statement on the matter.
  • China's commerce ministry warned on Thursday that it would retaliate if the U.S. slaps additional tariffs on the world's second largest economy.

Asia markets were mixed on the last trading day of the week, as markets continued to watch for any possible developments on the U.S.-China trade front.

The Nikkei 225 fell by 0.8 percent to close at 22,307.06. U.S. President Donald Trump had hinted to columnist James Freeman that Japan could be next in the trade cross hairs of America, according to a Wall Street Journal article.

South Korea's Kospi also ended the trading week down by 0.26 percent, with chipmaker SK Hynix tumbling 3.68 percent following the recent sell-off in U.S. tech stocks.

Down Under, the ASX 200 slid 0.27 percent to close at 6,143.8, recovering slightly from its earlier losses.

The Greater China stock indexes, on the other hand, largely made a turnaround in the afternoon, with Hong Kong's Hang Seng index slightly up as of 3:10 p.m. HK/SIN. The Shanghai composite was up by 0.4 percent to close around 2,702.30 while the Shenzhen composite ended the trading week higher by 0.105 percent at about 1,433.36.

Symbol
Name
Price
 
Change
%Change
NIKKEI
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HSI
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ASX 200
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SHANGHAI
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KOSPI
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CNBC 100
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Overnight on Wall Street, stocks mostly fell during the trading session. The Nasdaq Composite fell by 0.9 percent to close at 7,922.73 as it posted its third straight day of losses. The S&P 500 slid by 0.4 percent to close at 2,878.05. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, however, managed to buck the general trend to end up by 20.88 points at 25,995.87.

Trade remains in focus for markets

Markets were earlier expecting an escalation in the ongoing U.S.-China trade war, following reports which said the Trump administration could place tariffs on an additional $200 billion worth of Chinese goods when a public comment period ended at 12:00 p.m. HK/SIN on Friday. As of 3:12 p.m. HK/SIN, however, there were still no news on that front.

China's commerce ministry had stated on Thursday that the country would retaliate if the U.S. imposes new tariffs.

Nevertheless, some economists expect the conflict to continue.

ANZ Research Chief Economist (Greater China) Raymond Yeung said in a report on Friday that "an end point" has not been reached in the U.S.-China trade conflict.

"We believe the US government will continue to escalate the scale and scope of trade and investment measures against China ... The Trump administration is not simply targeting the bilateral trade balance between the US and China. If it is, the trade friction would have been eased back in May," he wrote.

"The administration's policy towards China is also targeting other aspects such as technology transfer, and the ultimate objective is to ensure that the US remains the largest economy in the world," he said, adding that this policy direction is unlikely to change even after the U.S. midterm elections in November.

Meanwhile, negotiations between the U.S. and Canada are still underway as the two parties seek to come to an agreement on the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement. The talks are expected to continue and could potentially last weeks.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of currencies, was at 94.915 as of 3:05 p.m. HK/SIN, off its high from yesterday.

The Japanese yen weakened slightly but was still up against the dollar at 110.64 while the Australian dollar was softer at $0.7152, as of 3:06 p.m. HK/SIN.

Oil markets were up again in the afternoon of Asian trade. The global benchmark Brent crude futures were up 0.12 percent at $76.59 per barrel. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures climbed up by 0.19 percent at $67.90 a barrel.

— CNBC's Fred Imbert and Reuters contributed to this report.