Asian Equities Mixed; China Stocks Turn Negative Amid U.S. Tariff Reports

Aug 01, 2018

Asian markets were mixed in afternoon trade on Wednesday, while China stocks turned negative after opening higher as investors digested the latest news on the U.S.-China trade front.

The Trump administration is considering to raise its planned 10% tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods to 25%, three people familiar with the internal deliberations said.

The report comes as focus shifted to U.S.-China trade tensions as the next wave tariffs on imported goods from China is expected to come into effect Wednesday, with China vowing to retaliate in kind. 

Earlier on Tuesday, Bloomberg reported that representatives of U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He were looking to restart trade negotiations,

Mnuchin and Liu agreed more conversation need to talk place, although a more specific timetable and topics to be discussed are yet to be finalized at this stage, according to the reports which cited people familiar with the matter.

The Shanghai Composite and the SZSE Component were both down 0.5% by 1:45AM ET (05:45 GMT), while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index also fell 0.4%.

A private survey showed that the Caixin/Markit Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ index (PMI) declined to 50.8 in July from last month’s 51.0, in line with expectations.

The official PMI, released on Tuesday, also showed slower factory growth in July.

Meanwhile, U.S. listed Chinese internet search company Baidu Inc.(NASDAQ:BIDU) received some focus after reporting net income rose 45% to 6.4 billion yuan ($940.65 million) in the second quarter ended June 30, compared to an estimated 13.4% rise.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 climbed 0.8%. Nintendo Co (T:T:7974). made headlines after the company reported operating profit of 30.5 billion yen in the June quarter, compared to the estimates of 25.6 billion yen.

Elsewhere, South Korea’s KOSPI also gained 0.4%. Technology stocks outperformed after Apple’s shares climbed overnight in the U.S. following a better-than-expected earnings report.

Meanwhile, official data showed on Wednesday that the country’s exports increased 6.2% from a year earlier to $51.9 billion, after slipping 0.2% in June.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast 7% growth. Imports, on the other hand, surged 16.2% from a year ago to $44.9 billion, data showed.

Down under, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 remained largely unchanged at 6281.3 in afternoon trade.