HONG KONG — Asian stock markets were mixed in early trading Wednesday as investors pondered the latest volley of tariff measures and threats between the U.S. and China.
KEEPING SCORE: Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 dipped 0.1 percent to 21,271.03 and South Korea’s Kospi slipped 0.4 percent to 2,432.83. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng edged 0.1 percent higher to 30,198.18 and the Shanghai Composite added 0.6 percent to 3,154.88. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 edged 0.1 percent lower to 5,745.60. Shares fell in Singapore.
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, which came after U.S. trading ended, by vowing to retaliate with measures of equal strength to be announced soon. Earlier this week, China rocked world markets when it said it would impose tariffs on a small number of imports from the U.S. but this time the reaction in Asia appeared more measured.
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 106.49 yen from 106.62 yen in late trading Tuesday. The euro rose to $1.2283 from $1.2272.
ENERGY: Oil’s rally fizzled. A barrel of U.S. crude lost 18 cents to $63.33 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 21 cents to $67.91 a barrel in London.