Asian Markets Mixed As Trump Proposes More China Tariffs

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Asian stock markets are exhibiting a mixed trend on Friday despite the positive cues overnight from Wall Street as worries about a trade war intensified after U.S. President Donald Trump said he has instructed his trade officials to consider $100 billion in additional tariffs on China.

Investors are also cautious as they look ahead to the release of the U.S. Labor Department's closely-watched monthly jobs report for March later in the day.

The Australian market is declining after news of Trump's plan to impose additional tariffs on China.

In late-morning trades, the S&P/ASX 200 Index is losing 18.20 points or 0.31 percent to 5,770.60, just off a low of 5,769.50. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 19.30 points or 0.33 percent to 5,868.70.

Oil stocks are mostly lower despite crude oil prices edging higher overnight. Oil Search is down 0.2 percent and Santos is declining 0.4 percent, while Woodside Petroleum is rising 0.5 percent.

Gold miners are also weak after gold prices fell overnight as safe-haven demand eased. Evolution Mining is down 0.3 percent and Newcrest Mining is lower by 0.5 percent.

Meanwhile, the major miners are mostly higher. Fortescue Metals is advancing almost 1 percent and BHP Billiton is adding 0.4 percent, while Rio Tinto is edging less than 0.1 percent.

Banking stocks are mixed. ANZ Banking is adding 0.6 percent and National Australia Bank is edging up less than 0.1 percent, while Commonwealth Bank is losing 0.2 percent and Westpac is lower by 0.3 percent.

ANZ Banking will pay A$3 million after an investigation by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission found that the bank failed to provide annual reviews to more than 10,000 customers.

Shares of Myer Holdings are gaining almost 3 percent after The Australian newspaper reported that arch rival David Jones' South African parent company Woolworths may be interested in acquiring the company.

Genex Power said it has signed a deal with North Queensland landowners to develop a new wind farm project that could generate up to 150MW. The renewable energy generation and storage company's shares are rising more than 1 percent.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is lower against the U.S. dollar on Friday. The local unit was trading at US$0.7676, down from US$0.7693 on Thursday.

The Japanese market slipped into negative territory after opening higher on renewed worries about a trade war and as investors digested mixed local economic data.

In late-morning trades, the benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is declining 41.02 points or 0.19 percent to 21,604.40, after rising to a high of 21,727.24 in early trades.

In the tech space, Advantest is down more than 3 percent and Tokyo Electron is lower by 0.5 percent.

The major exporters are mixed despite a slightly weaker yen. Canon is declining more than 1 percent and Mitsubishi Electric is down almost 1 percent, while Sony is adding 0.3 percent and Panasonic is advancing 0.6 percent.

Among the major automakers, Toyota is adding 0.3 percent and Honda is rising 0.4 percent. In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is lower by almost 1 percent, while Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is edging up less than 0.1 percent.

In the oil space, Inpex is rising more than 2 percent and Japan Petroleum Exploration is adding more than 1 percent.

Among the market's best performers, Daiichi Sankyo is rising more than 4 percent, while Seven & I Holdings and FamilyMart UNY Holdings are gaining almost 3 percent each.

On the flip side, Sumco Corp. is losing more than 4 percent, Takeda Pharmaceutical is losing almost 4 percent and Shin-Etsu Chemical is down almost 3 percent.

On the economic front, the Bank of Japan said that labor cash earnings in Japan were up 1.3 percent on year in February. That beat expectations for a gain of 0.5 percent following the upwardly revised 1.2 percent spike in January.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications said that the average of household spending in Japan was up 0.1 percent on year in February, coming in at 265,614 yen. That was shy of expectations for an increase of 0.3 percent following the 2.0 percent spike in January.

Japan will also see preliminary February results for its leading and coincident indexes today.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the 107 yen-range on Friday.

Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea and Malaysia are also modestly lower. Hong Kong is advancing more than 1 percent, while Singapore, New Zealand and Indonesia are also higher. The markets in Taiwan, China and Thailand are closed on Friday for public holidays.

On Wall Street, stocks closed higher on Thursday for a third straight day, reflecting easing concerns about a potential trade war between the U.S. and China. Amid the focus on trade relations, the Commerce Department released a report showing the U.S. trade deficit widened by more than anticipated in the month of February.

The Dow jumped 240.92 points or 1 percent to 24,505.22, the Nasdaq rose 34.44 points or 0.5 percent to 7,076.55 and the S&P 500 climbed 18.15 points or 0.7 percent to 2,662.84.

The major European markets also showed strong moves to the upside on Thursday. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index surged up by 2.4 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index soared by 2.6 percent and 2.9 percent, respectively.

Crude oil futures rose slightly Thursday, staying in a narrow trading range amid conflicting reports about OPEC's suply quota plans. WTI crude for May delivery edged up $0.17 to $63.54 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.