Asian stocks down as multiple trade disputes worry investors

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Asian stocks fell Friday following Wall Street losses overnight as investors were still wary over trade disputes between China and the U.S. as well as between the U.S. and Europe that could hurt corporate profit and jobs.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan’s Nikkei 225 lost 0.9 percent to 22,500.45 while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index edged down 0.2 percent to 29,257.41. Shanghai Composite Index added 0.2 percent to 2,881.13 but it was still more than 5 percent lower than the start of the week. South Korea’s Kospi rose 0.3 percent to 2,344.55 after losing more than 3 percent this week. Australia’s S&P-ASX 200 was flat at 6,229.30. Stocks in Taiwan, Singapore and Southeast Asian countries were lower.

ANALYST’S TAKE: “Heightened global trade tensions remain a theme going into the end of the week,” said Jingyi Pan, a market strategist at IG. “The overnight action on Wall Street had once again been one of risk-off, continuing to cast the shadows into the end of the week for Asia.”

TRADE TENSIONS: The U.S. is to start taxing $34 billion in Chinese goods in two weeks while Beijing has vowed to retaliate with its own tariffs on U.S. soybeans and other farm products. The European Union is set to slap tariffs on $3.4 billion in American products on Friday, in response to the U.S. move to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum from around the globe. Turkey also imposed tariffs on nearly two dozen U.S. products starting Thursday to strike back at Washington’s sanctions on imported steel and aluminum. On Thursday, German automaker Daimler said the tariffs China plans to put on cars imported from the U.S. will contribute to a small decline in earnings this year.

WALL STREET: U.S. stock markets finished lower on Thursday. The S&P 500 index slid 17.56 points, or 0.6 percent, to 2,749.76. The Dow fell 196.10 points, or 0.8 percent, to 24,461.70. The Nasdaq composite lost 68.56 points, or 0.9 percent, to 7,712.95. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks declined 18.04 points, or 1.1 percent, to 1,688.95.

OIL: Prices of oil rose ahead of OPEC meeting on Friday. Benchmark U.S. crude gained 95 cents to $66.49 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Thursday, it dropped 0.3 percent to $65.54 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the international standard for oil prices, rose 96 cents to $74.01 per barrel in London. It lost 2.3 percent to $73.05 a barrel on Thursday.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 110.00 yen from 109.99 yen while the euro strengthened to $1.161 from 1.160.