Hong Kong (AFP) – Asian stocks opened flat on Friday as traders digested the latest developments in the US-China trade spat and eyed all-important US jobs data later in the day.
Tokyo stocks climbed slightly higher at the opening bell but later gave up most of their gains and were trading only fractionally in the green halfway through the morning session.
Equity markets in South Korea and Australia were also in negative territory and China’s main Shanghai Composite index was closed.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was outperforming its regional peers, up more than one percent but the market was playing catch-up after being closed on Thursday.
“A wait-and-see mood tends to increase ahead of the release of US jobs data… but the market will likely stay solid with risk aversion among investors receding,” Okasan Online Securities said in a commentary.
Market players scrutinise the monthly jobs report from the US Department of Labor, set to be released later Friday, for clues on US monetary policy.
The Asian session followed a positive day for stocks in the US and Europe, with Wall Street closing higher for the third straight day, as investors’ fears over a full-blown US-China trade war eased.
Trump has since ratcheted up the rhetoric against China, saying he had instructed trade officials to “consider whether $100 billion of additional tariffs would be appropriate.”
The US leader has already asked for $50 billion worth of Chinese goods to be punitively taxed, which has sparked a formal challenge from Beijing at the World Trade Organization.
As news of Trump’s latest threat percolated, stock futures trading pointed to the Dow Jones Industrial Average opening over 400 points down.
Beijing has also unveiled plans for painful import duties targeting politically-sensitive US exports, including soybeans, aircraft and autos.
– Key figures around 0230 GMT –
Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 0.1 percent at 21,667.53
Hong Kong – Hang Seng: UP 1.5 percent at 29,964.39
Shanghai – Composite: 3,131.84 (closed)
Dollar/yen: DOWN at 107.29 yen from 107.38 at 2100 GMT
Euro/dollar: UP at $1.2256 from $1.2240 at 2100 GMT
Pound/dollar: UP at $1.4013 from $1.4005 at 2100 GMT
Oil – Brent North Sea: DOWN 41 cents at $68.00 per barrel
Oil – West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 47 cents at $63.18 per barrel
New York – Dow: UP 1.0 percent at 24,505.22 (close)
London – FTSE 100: UP 2.4 percent at 7,199.50 (close)