Stocks in Japan, China slip as Asian markets take cautious start to new quarter

  • Written by MarketWatch
  • Published in Economics

Asian stocks were mixed in early trading Monday as traders kicked off a new month and quarter.

The Nikkei NIK, -0.58%[1]   lagged early, dropping 0.3% as automakers such as Honda 7267, -0.43%[2]   and Nissan 7201, -1.07%[3]   dropped some 1% on President Donald Trump’s weekend auto-tariff talk. South Korea’s Hyundai 005380, -1.20%[4]   was down similarly, and the Kospi index SEU, -1.13%[5]   was essentially flat along with Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 XJO, +0.15%[6]  . New Zealand’s NZX 50 NZ50GR, +0.15%[7]  , among the few indexes that didn’t log decent gains Friday, was up 0.3% at midday.

Japanese stocks maintained their early weakness as U.S.-related worries persisted, with a slump in sectors ranging from food to rubber, airlines and retail. But the weakest big-cap was Hitachi Chemical 4217, -3.27%[8]  , down 3.5% to 21-month lows after disclosing inappropriate data entries related to lead-acid batteries. Meanwhile, the Bank of Japan’s Tankan business-sentiment report just missed in regards to big manufacturers but was solidly in positive territory. However, it predicted the dollar will weaken to ¥107.26, 3.5 yen below where the greenback currently trades. A stronger yen is a negative for many Japanese firms’ earnings.

In China, both the Shanghai Composite SHCOMP, -1.13%[9]   and the Shenzhen Composite 399106, -0.50%[10]  slid, as Chinese tariffs on $34 billion in U.S. goods[11] are scheduled...

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