Asian markets were mixed in early trading Thursday after President Donald Trump signed an order that would ban telecom equipment from countries considered “foreign adversaries,” in a move apparently targeted at China’s Huawei Technologies.
On Wall Street, a promising update on the Trump administration’s efforts to reach a trade deal with Canada and Mexico by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin put investors in a buying mood on Wednesday
Sentiment also got a boost from reports that the White House plans to delay new tariffs on car and auto parts imports from Europe by up to six months.
Mnuchin also said he expected to travel soon to Beijing to resume talks on the trade dispute that has rattled financial markets and cast doubt over the global economic outlook.
But the rally fizzled in Asia, after Trump issued an executive order declaring a national economic emergency that empowers the government to ban the technology and services of “foreign adversaries” deemed to pose unacceptable risks to national security. While it doesn’t name specific countries or companies, it follows months of U.S. pressure on Huawei, the world’s biggest supplier of network gear. A ban would also affect China-based ZTE Corp. 0763, -6.14% , which saw its stock tumble in Hong Kong trading.
Japan’s Nikkei NIK, -0.59% sank 0.6%, and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index HSI, +0.02% was about flat. The Shanghai Composite SHCOMP, +0.58% rose 0.1%, while the smaller-cap Shenzhen Composite 399106, +0.44% wavered between slight gains and losses. South Korea’s Kospi SEU, -1.20% fell 0.5%. Taiwan’s Taiex Y9999, -0.82% dipped 0.1%, while benchmark indexes in Singapore STI, +0.36% and Indonesia JAKIDX, -1.42% were mixed. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 XJO, +0.69% gave up early gains and was last about flat.
Among individual stocks, Toyota 7203, -1.04% and Honda 7267, -0.61% fell in Tokyo trading despite the reports that Trump will postpone tariffs on auto imports. Hyundai 005380, -0.39% and Kia Motors 000270, +0.95% gained in South Korea, though, while tech giant Samsung 005930, -2.35% fell. In Hong Kong, tech companies such as Sunny Optical 2382, -5.08% , AAC 2018, -2.93% and Tencent 0700, -1.98% slid. Beach Energy BPT, +1.48% advanced while Westpac Banking WBC, -3.87% fell in Australia.
On Wall Street, the S&P 500 index SPX, +0.58% gained 0.6% to 2,850.96. The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.45% rose 0.5% to 25,648.02. The Nasdaq COMP, +1.13% , which is heavily weighted with technology stocks, added 1.1% to 7,822.15.
Stocks have been whipsawed this week by worries over the worsening relationship between China and the U.S. and its impact on the broader global economy.
Tensions between the world’s two biggest economies intensified over the last week. The Trump administration more than doubled tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese imports and spelled out plans to target the $300 billion worth that aren’t already facing 25% taxes. The escalation covers everything from sneakers to toasters to billiard balls. The Chinese have retaliated by hiking tariffs on $60 billion in U.S. imports.
“The only real piece of good news is that the U.S. has announced it will defer its decision on auto tariffs to November, perhaps aimed at placating allies such as Germany and Japan as it fights a trade war with China,” said Chang Wei Liang, of the Asia & Oceania Treasury Department at Mizuho Bank in Singapore.
The U.S. and Japan also are holding trade talks, and trade issues are expected to be on the agenda at the summit of the Group of 20 industrial nations later this month in Japan.
Benchmark U.S. crude CLM9, +1.39% gained 35 cents to $62.37 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It rose 0.4% to $62.02 per barrel Wednesday. Brent crude LCON9, +1.37% , the international standard, added 35 cents to $72.12 per barrel.
The dollar USDJPY, +0.14% fell to 109.47 Japanese yen from 109.59 yen.