Asia Markets

Mainland stocks tumble as China cut tariffs on over 850 products

Key Points
  • Mainland Chinese stocks tumbled by Monday's close.
  • Trade optimism boosted sentiment as U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday said he had "a very good talk" with China's leader Xi Jinping about the so-called phase one trade deal they struck in mid-December.
  • China on Monday said it will lower import tariffs on over 850 products from Jan.1, including frozen pork, as well as some information technology products from July 1 next year.
  • Major miners, gold and oil stocks in Australia saw declines.

Major markets in Asia were subdued in Monday trade even amid greater optimism for U.S.-China relations.

Mainland Chinese stocks tumbled. The Shanghai composite fell 1.40% to close at 2,962.75, while the Shenzhen composite dropped 1.92% to 1,667.71. The Shenzhen component was down 1.69% to 10,056.21

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index was flat in its final hour of trade.

China on Monday said it will lower import tariffs on over 850 products from Jan.1, including frozen pork, as well as some information technology products starting July 1.

Trade optimism overall boosted sentiment as U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday said he had "a very good talk" with China's leader Xi Jinping about the so-called phase one trade deal they struck in mid-December. That indicated more progress has been made after they reached the initial agreement.

The president said in a tweet that China has started "large scale" purchases of U.S. agricultural products, and a formal deal signing is being arranged. On Saturday, he said both countries would "very shortly" sign the deal.

Meanwhile, China's state-backed semiconductor fund over the weekend announced plans to reduce holdings in some tech firms, according to a Reuters report. The state fund planned to cut its stakes in Gigadevice Semiconductor, chipmaker Shenzhen Goodix Technology and Hunan Goke Microelectronics by about one percentage point each, according to those companies' statements.

That came as all three firms had huge stock gains this year, the report said.

"The bigger catalyst for Mainland China's slump was news out right after the open that the China Integrated Circuit Industry Investment Fund was reducing its ownership of three Mainland publicly traded semiconductor stocks to under 1%," wrote Brendan Ahern, chief investment officer at Kraneshares, in a note.

"The move led to a tech wreck, which spread to the broader market as investors locked in gains going into year end," he added.

Other Asia markets

Japan's Nikkei 225 was flat, closing at 23,821.11, and the Topix index fell 0.21% to 1,729.42. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 was down 0.46% to 6,785.10.

Major miners in Australia declined. Rio Tinto was down 1.77%, and Fortescue Metals declined 1.19%. BHP Group fell 1.26%. Gold and oil stocks also saw declines.

South Korea's Kospi closed flat to 2,203.71.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was little changed.

U.S. stocks soared to fresh record highs Friday, with the S&P 500 rising 0.5% to 3,221.23. The Nasdaq Composite rose 0.4% to 8,924.96, notching an eight-day winning streak. The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 78.13 points, or 0.3% to 28,455.09.

Currencies and oil

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was last at 97.639, retreating from a high of 97.758 last week.

The Japanese yen traded at 109.39 against the dollar, a touch weaker from levels above 109.2 last week.

The Australian dollar last changed hands at $0.6908, strengthening from an earlier low of 0.6886.

Oil prices declined during Asia morning hours. Brent crude was down 0.29% to $65.95 and U.S. crude dropped 0.40% to $60.21 per barrel.

— CNBC's Yun Li contributed to this report