Asia Markets

Asia Pacific stocks mixed after China approves security bill for Hong Kong

Key Points
  • Stocks in Asia Pacific were mixed on Friday.
  • Investor focus on Friday was likely on U.S. President Donald Trump's upcoming press conference, expected sometime on Friday stateside.
  • The U.S. president's announcement came after China's National People's Congress on Thursday approved a national security bill for Hong Kong.

Stocks in Asia Pacific were mixed on Friday as investors watched for market reaction to China's controversial national security law for Hong Kong that was approved on Thursday.

Mainland Chinese stocks edged higher on the day, with the Shenzhen component up 0.869% to about 10,746.08 while the Shanghai composite gained 0.22% to around 2852.35.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index dipped 0.7%, as of its final hour of trading, as shares of HSBC fell 2.97%.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 declined 0.18% on the day to 21,877.89 as shares of robot maker Fanuc fell 2.76%. The Topix index also shed 0.87% to close at 1,563.67.

South Korea's Kospi fnished its trading day slightly higher at 2,029.60. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 declined 1.63% to close at 5,755.70 as shares of major banks such as Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Westpac dropped.

Overall, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index dipped 0.17%.

China's National People's Congress on Thursday approved a national security bill for Hong Kong, calling into focus the embattled city's autonomy from China. Hong Kong has a "one, party two systems" principle that allows for it to have additional freedoms not available to mainland Chinese residents.

U.S. President Donald Trump said he would hold a press conference on U.S.-China relations, expected sometime on Friday stateside. 

"Tensions between the US and Chinese governments over a security law for Hong Kong continue to escalate," Joseph Capurso, head of international economics at Commonwealth Bank of Australia, wrote in a note. "We consider the tensions between these two governments over Hong Kong, trade, the coronavirus and the South China sea will not fade."

Acknowledging that strains between the U.S. and China have been "bubbling in the background for a very long time," Tribeca Investment Partners' Jun Bei Liu said "it's not a great time" for political tensions to rise at a time when the world is already threatened with recession.

"It's not a great combination," Liu, who is lead portfolio manager at the firm, told CNBC's "Street Signs" on Friday. "It certainly make(s) us much more cautious when you look at, in terms of the new risks, put into the portfolio."

On the economic data front, Japan's retail sales fell 13.7% year-on-year in April, according to data released Friday by the country's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. That compared against a median market forecast of a 11.5% decline, according to Reuters.

Meanwhile, India is also set to release its gross domestic product for the January to March period at 8:00 p.m. HK/SIN on Friday, where the country is expected to report a sharp slowdown

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 98.238 after an earlier high of 98.547.

The Japanese yen traded at 107.17 per dollar after strengthening from levels above 107.8 yesterday. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.6661, following its rise from levels around $0.66 yesterday.