Asian Shares Tumble Amid US-China Trade War

Asian stocks succumbed to selling pressure on Wednesday after the U.S. proposed tariffs on an additional $200 billion worth of Chinese goods and China vowed to take countermeasures.

China’s Shanghai Composite Index plunged 50.42 points or 1.8 percent to 2,777.20 and the yuan drifted lower on worries the ongoing trade dispute could hurt economic growth. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index tumbled 370.56 points or 1.3 percent to 28,311.69.

Japanese shares ended lower to snap a three-day winning streak as fears about the global economic outlook due to the escalating trade war weighed on shippers and machinery makers.

The Nikkei 225 Index slumped 264.68 points or 1.2 percent to 21,932.21, while the broader Topix index closed 0.8 percent lower at 1,701.88.

Mitsui OSK Lines, Nippon Yusen, Komatsu and Hitachi Construction Machinery lost 2-3 percent. Oil refiner Idemitsu Kosan soared 9 percent and Showa Shell Sekiyu jumped 7.9 percent to extend gains from the previous session after they agreed on a merger.

Core machine orders in Japan fell 3.7 percent sequentially in May, the Cabinet Office said, coming in at 907.9 billion yen. The headline figure compared to expectations for a decline of 4.9 percent following the 10.1 percent spike in April.

On a yearly basis, machine orders surged up 16.5 percent, topping forecasts for a 10.9 percent spike following the 9.6 percent jump in the previous month.

Australian shares closed lower amid escalating trade tensions between the world’s two largest economies. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index fell 42.50 points or 0.7 percent to 6,215.60, while the broader All Ordinaries Index ended down 42.60 points or 0.7 percent at 6,300.20.

Financials paced the decliners, with the big four banks closing down between half a percent and 0.8 percent. Mining heavyweights BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto lost 1-2 percent as traders pondered the trade war’s impact on commodity markets.

Oil & gas producer Santos dropped 1.6 percent and Origin Energy tumbled 3.6 percent as oil prices fell in Asian trading after the U.S. said it would consider requests from some countries to be exempted from Iranian sanctions.

Meanwhile, retailer Woolworths advanced 1.4 percent after the latest survey from Westpac Bank showed its consumer confidence index jumped to the highest since late 2013 in July on growing optimism about the economy.

Theme park and cinema operator Village Roadshow remained in a trading halt for a second day to enable the completion of the institutional component of its $51 million capital raising.

South Korea’s benchmark Kospi slid 13.54 points or 0.6 percent to 2,280.62 as trade war concerns overshadowed positive labor market data. The economy added 106,000 jobs in June from a year earlier, while the jobless rate dropped to 3.7 percent from 4.0 percent in May, a government report showed.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX-50 index dipped 21.54 points or 0.2 percent to 9,001.39 after China slammed the U.S. threat to expand tariff hikes as “totally unacceptable” and vowed to protect its “core interests.”

India’s Sensex was rising 0.2 percent after TCS reported better-than-expected financial results for the June quarter.

Malaysia’s KLSE Composite index was down 0.1 percent, Singapore’s Straits Times index was losing 0.8 percent and the Taiwan Weighted was declining 0.7 percent, while Indonesian shares were little changed.

Overnight, U.S. stocks closed higher for the fourth day running as strong quarterly results from Snack food and beverage giant PepsiCo helped investors shrug off trade concerns.

The Dow climbed 0.6 percent and the S&P 500 added 0.4 percent to reach its best closing level in five months while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite finished marginally higher.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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