Asian shares mixed as markets mull US tariffs list for China

Asian stock markets were mixed Wednesday as investors pondered the latest barrage of tariff measures and threats between the U.S. and China.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 crept 0.1 percent higher to 21,319.55 but South Korea’s Kospi slid 1.4 percent to 2,408.06 as the won weakened from its 3 ? year high against the dollar earlier this week, motivating foreign investors to take profits. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 1.1 percent to 29,946.64 while the Shanghai Composite slipped 0.2 percent to 3,131.20. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 edged 0.1 percent higher to 5,757.80. Some major Asian indexes meandered between gains and losses. Shares fell in Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines but rose in Indonesia.

TARIFF TENSIONS: In the latest salvo escalating the U.S.-China trade dispute, the Trump administration proposed 25 percent tariffs on $50 billion worth of imports from China to protest Beijing’s alleged theft of U.S. technology. China’s Commerce Ministry responded quickly to the announcement, vowing to retaliate with measures of equal strength to be announced soon. Its envoy to the WTO said Beijing would challenge the U.S. moves.

INVESTOR INSIGHT: “The much-anticipated U.S. tariffs list finally saw the light of day and would be one for markets to digest in today’s session,” said Jingyi Pan, market strategist at IG. “China’s response following the release had provided little fresh insights as the market had been well aware that retaliation steps are expected to follow.” Pan noted that investors in mainland China may be extra cautious as they head into a long weekend starting Thursday.

WALL STREET: Major U.S. benchmarks ended higher after a late rally. The S&P 500 index rose 1.3 percent to 2,614.45. It dropped 2.2 percent a day earlier. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 1.6 percent to 24,033.36. The Nasdaq composite climbed 1 percent to 6,941.28.

CURRENCIES: The dollar slipped to 106.60 yen from 106.62 yen in late trading Tuesday. The euro weakened to $1.2271 from $1.2272.

ENERGY: Oil’s rally fizzled. A barrel of U.S. crude lost 24 cents to $63.27 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained 50 cents to settle at $63.51 on Tuesday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 28 cents to $67.84 a barrel in London.