Asian shares decline and yen firms after tariff list news; US futures lower

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Trade developments returned to focus during Asian trade on Wednesday, with major markets in the region trading lower following the release of a list of an additional $200 billion in Chinese goods on which the U.S. is considering imposing tariffs.

The goods on the U.S. government’s list would be subject to 10 percent tariffs, according to a statement from U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, who said his office will proceed with a public notice and comment period before the levies are officially imposed.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 fell 0.79 percent in early trade as trade-sensitive stocks, such as automakers, mostly sank. Other Japanese exporters also traded lower, with chip-related company Advantest down 1.18 percent and Canon slipping 0.51 percent.

The dollar softened against the safe-haven yen following the latest tariff news, with the greenback trading at 110.85 at 8:02 a.m. HK/SIN, after trading above the 111 level overnight.

Elsewhere, the Kospi dropped 0.96 percent as South Korean exporters took a hit amid broad-based declines. Hyundai Motor declined 0.81 percent and tech heavyweight Samsung Electronics dropped 1.3 percent.

Over in Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 shed 0.22 percent as losses in energy, materials and financials were slightly offset by gains in the consumer sector.

U.S. stock index futures slipped further following the news. The implied open for the Dow Jones Industrial Average futures was more than 180 points lower at of 7:10 p.m. ET. The implied open for the S&P 500 and Nasdaq were also in the red.

The latest news on the trade front comes after the U.S. tariffs on $34 billion in Chinese goods took effect on Friday, a move against which China swiftly retaliated. U.S. President Donald Trump last week said an additional $500 billion could potentially face tariffs.

The risk-sensitive Australian dollar traded at 0.7419, slipping further from the 0.75 handle.

On Tuesday, the Dow rose 0.58 percent, or 143.07 points, to close at 24,919.66 — the index’s fourth consecutive session of gains. The S&P 500 edged up by 0.35 percent to 2,793.84 and the Nasdaq composite finished higher by 0.04 percent at 7,759.20.

The advance on Wall Street came as corporate earnings season rolled around. Analysts polled by FactSet expected S&P 500 second-quarter earnings to have grown by 20 percent.

Here’s the economic calendar for Wednesday (all times in HK/SIN):

  • 8:30 a.m.: Australia Westpac consumer confidence
  • Malaysia’s central bank will announce its interest rates decision later in the day

— CNBC’s Fred Imbert contributed to this report.

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