Asian markets jittery over trade war fears

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Tokyo’s benchmark stock index on Friday plunged to the lowest level since early October on revived trade war fears as the US unveiled tariffs on Chinese imports.

The Nikkei fell by 4.51 percent to 20,617.86 points, while the broader Topix dropped by 3.62 percent.

The MSCI index of Asia-Pacific shares shed 2.2 percent, with the Shanghai Composite down 3.64 percent.

Investors fear that the measures announced by the US administration could escalate into a trade war, with potentially dire consequences for the global economy.

Equity market in focus

“The economic impact on both China and the US will be determined by what form the tariffs end up taking,” J.P Morgan Asset Management strategist Hannah Anderson said in a statement.

The equity market will bear the brunt of the market reaction; most impacted will be the US, South Korea and Taiwan as companies active in these markets make up a significant portion of the global production chain of Chinese exports.”

Setting a downbeat tone for Asia, The Dow on Thursday shed 2.9 percent, while the S&P 500 dropped 2.5 percent and the NASDAQ fell 2.4 percent.

As equities took a beating, the Japanese currency rallied against the dollar, with the yen often sought by investors in times of market turmoil.

Safe-haven spot gold rose to $1,339.05 an ounce, reaching its highest level since March 7.

hg/jd (Reuters, dpa, AFP)