Asia Pacific markets were mostly in negative territory on Friday morning as investors remained worried over trade tensions between the United States and China.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down 0.18% in the morning.
In Japan, the benchmark Nikkei 225 pared some losses from earlier, falling 0.57% while the Topix index was down 0.21%. South Korea’s Kospi was down 0.59%. Australia’s ASX 200 was lower by 0.67% as the heavily weighted financial subindex declined 0.84%.
Asia-Pacific Market Indexes Chart
“A negative shift (in) the US-China trade negotiations took its toll on the markets,” analysts at ANZ Research said in an early morning note. “China is prepared to hunker down and support its private enterprises rather than yield to the financial pressures being applied by the US.”
The ANZ analysts pointed out that since both sides “will only negotiate on their own terms, it could be years before the two powers can find sufficient common ground.”
Both Beijing and Washington have imposed tariffs on billions of dollars’ worth of one another’s goods since last year. The trade tensions have battered financial markets and dampened business sentiment. The situation escalated earlier this month as both sides hiked tariffs on their goods.
Overnight, U.S. stocks fell as investors were concerned the trade war may last much longer than anticipated. Data also showed that manufacturing activity in the world’s largest economy grew at its slowest pace since September 2009 this month.
In India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party clinched a landslide re-election victory. On Thursday, as Modi’s party led the vote count, investors had cheered — at one point, the Nifty 50 jumped above the 12,000 mark while the Sensex breached the 40,000 level. Both indexes ultimately gave up gains and closed lower.
Elsewhere, the dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of its peers, last traded at 97.882, falling from levels above 98.000.
The Japanese yen, considered a safe haven currency, traded at 109.69 to the dollar, strengthening from levels beyond 110.40 earlier in the week. Meanwhile, the Australian dollar changed hands at $0.6892, gaining slightly from levels below $0.6880.
Oil prices jumped during Asia trading hours, bouncing back after losses on Thursday. Brent crude futures jumped 0.96% to $68.41 per barrel, and U.S. crude futures soared about 1% to $58.48 per barrel.