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Asian auto stocks end mixed amid trade concerns

Key Points
  • Shares of automakers in Asia were mixed.
  • Sources told CNBC that U.S. President Donald Trump's administration plans to push back auto tariffs by up to six months.
  • The latest development comes as the U.S. remains locked in a bitter trade fight with China.
A Toyota car assembly manufacturing line at Tianjin FAW Toyota Factory in Tianjin, China.
Visual China Group | Getty Images

Auto stocks in Asia were mixed on Thursday amid concerns over U.S.-China trade, after seeing an earlier jump following reports that the U.S. may delay tariffs on the sector.

Shares of Kia Motors rose 0.95%, while Hyundai Motor saw its shares decline 0.39%. Stocks of the two South Korean automakers initially surged more than 5% in early trade.

In Japan, shares of Toyota fell 1.04% and Honda slipped 0.61%, but Nissan gained 0.17%.

The moves followed overnight developments that U.S. President Donald Trump's administration may push back auto tariffs by up to six months, multiple sources told CNBC. That news sent auto stocks in the U.S. higher.

The White House has until Saturday to decide on whether to slap duties on imports of cars and auto parts, amid concerns over national security. After Saturday, the administration would have another 180 days to come to a decision as long as it is negotiating with its counterparts.

The latest development came amid an escalating trade fight between the U.S. and China, after Washington raised tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports last week. In retaliation, Beijing also increased tariffs on $60 billion worth of American goods earlier this week. The U.S. has raised the possibility of slapping tariffs on an additional $300 billion in goods from China.

"In our view, the US-China trade conflict is inevitable," economists at ANZ Research wrote in a note.

The trade imbalance between China and the U.S. stems from the greenback's global reserve currency status, they said. "Import tariffs cannot alleviate the situation. Only if the US is willing to sacrifice the USD's dominance or the world shifts to an RMB (Chinese yuan) regime, will economic order be restored again."

Recent data releases have also fueled concerns over the protracted trade war's impact on world economic growth.

— CNBC's Kayla Tausche, Jacob Parmuk and Fred Imbert contributed to this report.