Asian Stocks Lower As Trade Bites Yet Again, US Payrolls Up Next

Talking Points:

  • Asian stocks were mostly weaker on Friday, if not by much
  • News that the US was considering still more trade barriers did the damage
  • Hong Kong equity managed to buck the trend

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Asian stocks were mixed Friday despite strong Wall Street gains as
US President Donald Trump indicated that that more tariffs on Chinese imports could
be in the pipeline.

A statement released by the White House as Asian trade was ramping up said that the President had directed trade advisors to identify Chinese products with a view to levying an extra $100 billion in tariffs on them. Trade Representative Robert Lighthiser reportedly said that such barriers would not be raised until a public comment process had been completed. For its part China said it would fight back firmly against US protectionism.

The Nikkei 225 ended the session down by 0.4%, with stocks in Australia, South Korea and mainland China also in the red as their closes approached. The Hang Seng bucked the trend, rising on some strength in domestic financials.

The trade news initially hit the US Dollar against the Japanese Yen, and the Australian and New Zealand Dollars too. However currency markets recovered some composure as the session went on.

Still, NZD/USD seems to have suffered a bit of a setback. Earlier this week it broke above the significant downtrend line which has capped trade since mid-February.

However, that break seems to have been short-lived with the downtrend apparently reasserted.

Gold prices got a modest lift on the day’s big news, while crude oil prices slipped back.

Trade aside, investors are looking toward the official US labour-market release which will come long after Asian markets have closed. Expectations centre around the creation of 175,000 nonfarm jobs last month, with a small fall for both the unemployment rate. Wage growth will be in focus, too. There are other data, notably Canada’s jobless numbers and US consumer credit levels. But they’re not likely to get much of a look-in on nonfarm payrolls day. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell certainly will. He’s speaking on the economic outlook.

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— Written by David Cottle, DailyFX Research

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