Asian Markets Edge Lower Amid Geopolitical Tensions Between U.S., China

Aug 10, 2018

Asian stocks were mostly lower on Friday as investors assessed the impact of the latest tit-for-tat in the trade war between the U.S. and China.

After recording seven straight gains of more than1%, the Shanghai Composite rebounded and traded 0.1% lower by 12:15AM ET (04:15 GMT). The Shenzhen Component on the other hand climbed 0.4%, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index slipped 0.4%.

The Chinese Ministry of Commerce announced a 25% tariff on $16 billion worth of U.S. goods including passenger cars and motorcycles on Wednesday. Beijing’s announcement came after the Trump administration confirmed a list of $16 billion worth of Chinese goods that would be hit with tariffs in the previously day. China’s Ministry of Commerce said in a statement that the U.S.’s decision is “very unreasonable,” and that China has no choice but to retaliate.

Overnight, Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) remained in focus after CNBC reports that the company’s directors are planning to meet with financial advisor next week to discuss further steps to take the company private.

Japan’s Nikkei fell 0.5% in morning trade. While not a directional driver, data showed on Friday that the country’s economy grew more than expected in the second quarter.

GDP jumped 1.9% in the period of April to June, compared to the median estimate for a 1.4% annualized increase. Analysts believe Japan’s economy to continue growing due to consumer spending and business investment, although tensions between Japan and the U.S. could potentially be headwinds for growth.

In a meeting with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer earlier this week, Japanese Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi appeared to maintain Tokyo's position that it preferred multilateral free-trade agreements over bilateral ones.

Elsewhere, South Korea’s KOSPI was down 0.7%. Samsung Electronics (KS:005930) fell as much as 2% while SK Hynix Inc (KS:000660) also declined 2.2%.