Asian shares mixed as auto tariff tensions said to take a breather

Shares in Asia were mixed in Thursday morning trade, despite a positive development overnight on the global trade front.

The Nikkei 225 in Japan slipped 0.52% in early trade, while the Topix declined 0.41%. Over in South Korea, the Kospi fell 0.11%.

Australia’s ASX 200, on the other hand, rose 0.15% as the sectors mostly traded up.

Asia-Pacific Market Indexes Chart

Shares of automakers in Asia mostly jumped on Thursday, with South Korea’s Hyundai Motor adding 1.56% and Kia Motors surging 3.22%. Over in Japan, Nissan gained 1.12%, while Toyota slipped 0.21%.

The moves came following reports that U.S. President Donald Trump plans to postpone auto tariffs by up to six months. The news also sent auto stocks stateside higher overnight.

Stocks on Wall Street advanced on Wednesday following that development. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 115.97 points at 25,648.02. The S&P 500 added 0.6% to end the day at 2,850.96 while the Nasdaq Composite gained 1.1% to close at 7,822.15.

Shares stateside initially fell after the release of weaker-than-expected economic data stoked fears that the U.S.-China trade war is dragging down global economic growth.

U.S. retail sales fell 0.2% in April, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. Economists polled by Dow Jones expected an increase of 0.2%. Over in China, data released Wednesday showed the country’s industrial output and retail sales growth for April also coming in below expectations.

Those numbers came amid a recent re-escalation in trade tensions between Beijing and Washington, starting with the U.S. raising tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports last week. In retaliation, China hiked tariffs on $60 billion worth of U.S. goods earlier this week. The U.S. also raised the possibility of slapping tariffs on an additional $300 billion in goods from China.

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The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 97.548 after seeing highs above 97.6 yesterday.

The Japanese yen traded at 109.45 against the dollar following a turbulent session yesterday that saw it swinging below 109.2 and above 109.6. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.6923 after slipping from levels above $0.696 earlier in the week.

Oil prices rose in the morning of Asian trading hours, with the international benchmark Brent crude futures contract adding 0.26% to $71.96 per barrel, while U.S. crude futures gained 0.27% to $62.19 per barrel.

— CNBC’s Fred Imbert contributed to this report.



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