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What trade war? China stocks jump after tariff hike

Key Points
  • Chinese shares stood defiant after their return from the lunch break, surging despite the U.S. imposing higher tariffs on Chinese goods.
  • The U.S. raised tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods — from 10% to 25% — at 12:01 a.m. ET Friday.
  • Beijing pledged to take countermeasures but did not provide specifics, Reuters reported.

Stocks in China rallied on Friday, after the U.S. carried out its threat and raised tariffs on Chinese goods at midnight.

Mainland Chinese stocks bounced following an earlier wobble. The Shanghai composite rose 3.1% to about 2,939.21 and the Shenzhen component soared 4.03% to 9,235.39. The Shenzhen composite also jumped 3.833% to close at around 1,568.62.

The U.S. increased tariffs from 10% to 25% on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods at 12:01 a.m. ET Friday, even as the White House said negotiations will continue. In response, Beijing said it "deeply regrets" the tariff hike and would take countermeasures — though no specifics were provided, Reuters reported.

"Given how much markets have corrected over the past few days, you would expect some short covering," said Ken Wong, Asia equity portfolio strategist at Eastspring Investments. "No one knows what's going to happen over the weekend."

Acknowledging that continued talks on Friday stateside will be "positive," Nick Marro, analyst at the Economist Intelligence Unit, said the escalation was likely to "hang over these talks like a dark cloud."

"I think the fact that ... the tariff escalation was acted upon is going to do a lot to erase a lot of the goodwill and the positive momentum that we saw build up over the first quarter and it's going to be very difficult for both sides to really come back from that," Marro told CNBC's "Capital Connection" after the tariff increment.

He pointed out that the potential for a deal "has gone down significantly" and the possibility of talks breaking down even further has risen.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong's Hang Seng index added around 1%, as of its final hour of trading.

Elsewhere in Asia, however, the picture was mixed. The Nikkei 225 in Japan fell 0.27% to close at 21,344.92, the Topix also declined fractionally to finish its trading day at 1,549.42.

In South Korea, the Kospi was 0.29% higher to close at 2,108.04, while the in Australia finished 0.25% higher at 6,310.90.

Asia-Pacific Market Indexes Chart

Chinese Vice Premier Liu He is currently in Washington for trade negotiations with the U.S. negotiators. Liu, however, is meeting with Trump's trade team without the title of "special envoy" for Chinese President Xi Jinping, a role he held in previous talks, suggesting he may have diminished authority to make concessions that could be crucial to striking a deal.

The recent developments marked a turnaround in sentiment, with investors previously expecting a deal to be announced between the two economic powerhouses to end their protracted trade war.

"From (the) Chinese government point of view, I think they will tend to get a little bit bored with these antics because the China government really is about planning," Jim McCafferty, head of Asia ex-Japan research at Nomura Securities, told CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Friday.

"It's very hard to plan when you've got this erratic partner in the U.S., which is changing (its) mind every few days. So, I think attitudes will change and the Chinese may actually get bored," McCafferty said.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 97.367 after slipping from levels above 97.5 yesterday.

The , widely viewed as a safe-haven currency, traded at 109.79 against the dollar after touching an earlier low of 110.04. The was at $0.6997, in a turbulent trading week that has seen the currency scale highs above $0.7020.

Oil prices advanced in the afternoon of Asian trading hours, with the international benchmark Brent crude futures contract adding 0.37% to $70.65 per barrel and U.S. crude futures rising 0.57% to $62.05 per barrel.

— CNBC's Yun Li contributed to this report.