Asian stock markets declined Wednesday, hewing to a recent pattern as traders weighed a still-unresolved trade dispute between China and the US. Hong Kong and Tokyo fell while Shanghai gained. Other regional exchanges lost ground.
In Japan, the Nikkei 225 opened lower on Wall Street cues as investors eyed a Trump administration currency “monitoring list” that included Japan and a stronger yen, the latter regarded as a negative in export-oriented Japan.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 dropped 256.77, or 1.21% to 21,003.37, as losing issues outnumbered gainers 180 to 39.
Leading the upside on a down day was engineering firm Chiyoda (CHYCY, 6366:Tokyo), up 4.8%, followed by petroleum and metals giant JXTG Holdings (JXHGF, 5020:Tokyo), up 2.6%, and Mitsubishi Motors (MMTOF, 7211:Tokyo), gaining 2.5%.
On the downside was Internet advertising agency CyberAgent (CYGIY, 4751:Tokyo), off 7.6%, and retailer FamilyMart UNY (FYRTY, 8028:Tokyo), off 6.6%.
In economic news, Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said central banks should become more broad-minded when targeting inflation, as they are missing targets due to the price-dampening effects of technological innovations and globalization. The Bank of Japan has targeted a 2% annual inflation rate in Japan, but prices have risen by much less.
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In other news, expectations that the US-China trade dispute will eventually ease should help Japanese stocks recover by year-end to show a gain of 6% from last week’s closing level, a Reuters poll found. Median estimates from 28 analysts and fund managers polled in the past week put the Nikkei benchmark at 22,375 by the end of 2019.
The Hong Kong Hang Seng Index opened lower following overnight Wall Street declines, and could not recover lost ground, finishing off 0.57% as traders eyed the ongoing Sino-US trade dispute. Financial issues were weak, following the recent seizure of mainland China’s Baoshang Bank.
The Hang Seng fell 155.10 to 27,235.71, as losing issues outnumbered gainers 36 to 12.
Leading the upside on a down day were “safe harbor” issues including utility Hong Kong & China Gas (3:HK), up 1.2%, followed by telecommunications company China Unicom HK (762:HK), up 1.1%, and subway operator MTR (66:HK), up 1.0%.
On the downside was Macau gaming house Sands China (1928:K), off 2.7%, and Sun Hung Kai Properties (16:HK), off 2.5%.
On the mainland, the Shanghai Composite rose 0.16% to 2,914.70.
In economic news, industrial profits in China posted at $74.7 billion in April, down 3.7% year-over-year, the largest percentage decline since December 2015, the official National Bureau of Statistics said this week.
On the other exchanges, the S. Korean Kospi declined 1.25%; the Taiwan TWSE lost 0.10%; the Australian S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.69%; the Singapore Straits Times Index slipped 0.06%, and the Thai Set gave up 0.78%. In late trading in Mumbai, the Sensex was off 0.62%.