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Hong Kong stocks fall 2% as investors digest China's trade data; Asia markets mixed

This is CNBC's live blog covering Asia-Pacific markets.

A general view of the container terminal in Qianwan of Qingdao Port, a port in Shandong Province, China, March 17, 2023. 
CFOTO | Future Publishing | Getty Images

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index tumbled over 2%, leading losses in the region as investors further digested China's trade data that included a decline in imports of 1.4% and a slowed growth in exports of 8.5%.

Hong Kong-listed healthcare and basic materials stocks lead the declines as Asia-Pacific markets traded mixed on Monday.

In mainland China, the Shanghai Composite slid 1.1% and finished at 3,357.67 after marking the highest point in 10 months on Monday, and the Shenzhen Component also fell 0.9% to close at 11,125.02 on Tuesday.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.17% and closed at 7,264.1 ahead of the nation's annual Federal Budget announcement, with watchers widely expecting to see the first budget surplus since the 2008 financial crisis.

South Korea's Kospi fell 0.13% to end at 2,510 and the Kosdaq slid 0.76% to finish at 835.85.

Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 1.01% to end the day at 29,242.82 and the Topix closed 1.27% higher at 2,097.55, buoyed by basic materials and energy stocks. Japan saw a decline in household spending in April despite economists surveyed by Reuters expecting to see growth.

Thailand's Set Composite index was up marginally as the nation prepares for a general election this month with issues related to the economy sitting at the top of the agenda.


Overnight in the U.S., the Federal Reserve's quarterly Senior Loan Officer Opinion survey showed requirements got tougher for commercial and industrial loans. The report showed trouble within mid-sized institutions caused banks to tighten lending standards to households and businesses, potentially posing a threat to U.S. economic growth.

Stocks ended the session mixed, with the S&P 500 up marginally and the Nasdaq Composite climbing 0.18%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 0.17% as investors await U.S. inflation reports later this week.

— CNBC's Brian Evans, Samantha Subin contributed to this report

Hang Seng index falls 2%, dragged down by healthcare, basic materials, technology stocks

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index dropped 2% in Asia's afternoon session, with healthcare and basic materials leading declines.

Technology stocks listed in Hong Kong fell roughly 3%, Refinitiv data showed.

China's largest chipmaker SMIC, or Semiconductor Manufacturing International Co. plunged by 7.6% ahead of its first quarter earnings slated for release later this week.

Shenzhou International Group Holdings also saw losses of more than 5.5%, Alibaba Health Information Technology fell 5.3% and WuXi Biologics fell 4.86%.

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– Jihye Lee

EU China envoy says probe into consultancies worrying for business

The European Union's ambassador to China said Beijing's widening probe into foreign consultancies operating in the mainland is "not good news" and "not very conducive" to its stated aim of opening the world's second-largest economy to foreign investment, Reuters reported.

Speaking at a press conference in Beijing, Jorge Toledo Albiñana also expressed concerns regarding state media claims that China's recent investigations into consultancies are part of the state's crackdown on efforts to steal state secrets and intelligence.

Chinese lawmakers last month approved a wide-ranging expansion of its counter-espionage law, which barred the transfer of information that has national security implications. The law, along with this widening probe, has sparked concerns on China's broadened definition of spying.

State media reported on Monday that Chinese authorities have carried out an investigation into consulting firm Capvision Partners, which runs one of China's largest expert networks.

Clement Tan

China expels Canadian diplomat as relations sour

China announced it will expel Canadian diplomat Jennifer Lynn Lalonde of the Consulate General of Canada in Shanghai.

The notice posted on the foreign ministry's website said she has been asked to leave by Saturday.

The tit-for-tat move comes after Canada's foreign affairs minister declared Toronto-based Chinese diplomat Zhao Wei as "persona non grata," saying that "any form of foreign interference" in Canada's internal affairs will not be tolerated.

The dispute comes after local media reports alleged there are "examples of Chinese influence operations aimed at the opposition Conservative Party" in Canada, citing findings from CSIS. The report said China's intelligence services have "taken specific actions to target Canadian MPs" linked to a 2021 bill condemning China's treatment of Uyghurs and other minorities.

– Jihye Lee

China's exports rose 8.5%, continuing its growth streak at a slower pace

China's exports grew 8.5% year-on-year in April, marking a second-straight month of growth after the economy saw a surprise jump of 14.8% in March, government data showed. Imports fell by 7.9% for the month.

Economists polled by Reuters estimated exports would rise 8% in April, while imports were forecast to remain unchanged after declining by 1.4% year-on-year in the previous month.

China's trade surplus rose to $90.21 billion, up from the surplus of $88.2 billion in March. A Reuters poll predicted a surplus of $74.3 billion for the month.

– Jihye Lee

Australia's retail trade fell in the first quarter

Australia's retail trade fell 0.6% in the first quarter of this year compared to the fourth quarter of 2022, government data showed Tuesday.

The decline marked a second straight month of contraction and was in line with estimates seen in a Reuters poll of economists.

The seasonally adjusted turnover in volume stood at AU$96.2 billion for the quarter.

The Australian dollar traded at marginally weaker levels at 0.6778 against the U.S. dollar.

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– Jihye Lee

Bank of Japan's Ueda says "no pre-set idea" on how review will affect future decisions: Reuters

Bank of Japan governor Kazuo Ueda said there is no pre-set idea on how its planned policy review will affect the central bank's future monetary policy decisions.

Ueda was referring to the announcement by the BOJ after its first monetary policy meeting, where the bank announced that it "decided to conduct a broad-perspective review" of its easing measures.

Ueda reportedly told parliament that "we will take necessary policy steps at each of our rate reviews, with an eye on financial and price developments, even while we conduct the review."

Ueda has maintained the current BOJ policy, but is expected to gradually roll back the ultra-dovish policy of his predecessor Haruhiko Kuroda.

The Japanese yen weakened marginally to 135.13 against the U.S. dollar on Tuesday morning.

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— Lim Hui Jie

Taiwan's trade surplus hit highest level since Oct 2020 as exports fall less than expected

Taiwan's trade surplus surged to $6.71 billion, its highest level since October 2020 as exports from the island fell less than expected for April, government data showed Tuesday.

Exports fell 13.3% year-on-year to $35.96 billion, lower than a Reuters poll of economists expecting a 18.5% decline. Meanwhile, imports fell even further by 20.2% to $29.25 billion, widely unchanged from the decline of 20.1% seen in the previous month.

Taiwan's ministry of finance revealed that in April, exports to its major trading partners all fell except to Japan.

Exports to Japan grew by 19.8%, while exports to mainland China and Hong Kong saw the largest fall at a decline of 22%.

Imports from its major trading partners also fell, with imports from the ASEAN region leading losses and falling 26.1% year-on-year.

— Lim Hui Jie

China's trade surplus to have eased to $74 billion in April

China's trade surplus is expected to have eased slightly from $