Asia markets were mixed amid US-China trade tensions

  • Asia markets were mixed in early trade on Thursday amid rising trade tensions between the U.S. and China.
  • China said on Wednesday that it will impose a 25 percent charge on $16 billion worth of American goods.
  • That announcement followed after the U.S. Trade Representative’s office released a finalized list of $16 billion worth in Chinese goods that will be hit with tariffs, taking effect on Aug. 23.

Asia traded mixed on Thursday morning after the U.S. market was mostly little changed overnight following the unveiling of new Chinese tariffs on American goods.

In Australia, the ASX 200 was up 0.15 percent in early trade. But the energy subindex was down 0.83 percent following overnight drop in oil prices. Shares of Santos fell 1.06 percent, Oil Search was down 0.99 percent and Woodside Petroleum lost 0.68 percent.

Global benchmark Brent declined 3.17 percent on Wednesday to $72.28 a barrel while U.S. crude fell 3.22 percent to $66.94.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 dropped 0.54 percent and the Topix index was down 0.55 percent. Major automakers declined with shares of Toyota down 0.48 percent, Nissan off by 0.71 percent and Honda lower by 0.93 percent.

South Korea’s Kospi fell 0.14 percent.

“There was a lack of data overnight with the market focusing on trade tension between the U.S. and China,” David Plank from ANZ Research said in a morning note.

Beijing said on Wednesday that it will retaliate against the latest round of U.S. tariffs on Chinese imports. The Chinese Ministry of Commerce announced a 25 percent tariff on $16 billion worth of American goods. The 333 goods being targeted by China include vehicles such as large passenger cars and motorcycles.

The announcement came after the U.S. Trade Representative’s office released a finalized list of $16 billion worth of Chinese goods that will be hit with tariffs, taking effect on Aug. 23. The latest U.S. list brings the total amount of Chinese goods facing a 25 percent tariff to $50 billion.

Analysts said that reaction to the news has been “fairly muted” apart from the drop in oil prices.

“The move lower in [oil] prices appears to have been driven after China announced that it will levy 25 percent tariffs on U.S. gasoline, diesel and other goods in response to the $16 (billion) tariffs announced by the U.S. yesterday,” Rodrigo Catril, senior foreign-exchange strategist at the National Bank of Australia, wrote in a morning note.

Elsewhere, the U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of currencies, traded at 95.086 at 8:17 a.m. HK/SIN.

Among other currency pairs, the Japanese yen traded at 110.78 to the dollar, strengthening from levels above 111.6 in the previous week. The Australian dollar traded at $0.7427 and the euro fetched $1.1607.

— CNBC’s Fred Imbert and Reuters contributed to this report.

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