SYDNEY, Sept 7 2018 : Asian shares slipped to a 14-month trough today as investors feared a new round of Sino-U.S. tariffs could come at any moment, while a slump in U.S. chip stocks rippled through the tech sector.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan lost 0.34 percent to reach its lowest since mid-July last year.
The Nikkei fell 0.9 percent, undermined by a rising yen and reports U.S. President Donald Trump could be contemplating taking on Japan over trade.
Nerves were already frayed as the public comment period for proposed tariffs on an additional $200 billion worth of Chinese imports ends at 0400 GMT, and the tariffs could go into effect shortly afterward.
China has warned of retaliation if Washington implements any new measures.
“It seems unlikely the tariffs are not implemented as the U.S. administration believes that they are winning the trade war and will be in a stronger position to negotiate if they put more pressure on China,” JPMorgan analysts wrote in a note.
Wall Street saw sharp losses in chipmakers and concerns about increased regulation of social media companies.
The S&P 500 lost 0.37 percent and the Nasdaq 0.91 percent, while the Dow eked out a 0.08 percent gain.
Eyes were now turned to the U.S. payrolls report for August which is expected to show a robust rise of 191,000, in part as July was temporarily depressed by the closure of the Toys R Us chain that month.
Still, analysts at NatWest Markets cautioned that: “Despite employment indicators pointing to another strong report, it is worth noting that there is a tendency for August payrolls to initially disappoint and then be revised up noticeably later.”
Just as important will be figures on wages where a rise above the 0.2 percent forecasted would likely boost the dollar and pressure Treasury prices.
Part of the losses came after a Wall Street Journal columnist reported Trump had mused about starting a trade fight with Japan.
The dollar also hit a four-month low on the franc at $0.9646. Against a basket of currencies, the dollar index was down at 95.021 and off the week’s top of 95.737.
The euro was holding steady at $1.1619, while sterling idled at $1.2921 amid ongoing uncertainty over Brexit negotiations.
In commodity markets, the dip in the dollar left gold a whisker higher at $1,201.21 an ounce.
Crude oil steadied after falling more than 1 percent yesterday after U.S. data showed gasoline inventories rose unexpectedly last week.
Brent was 5 cents firmer at $76.55 a barrel, while U.S. crude edged up 9 cents to $67.86. – Reuters