Asia braces for US-China tariffs as stocks fall

Asia braces for US-China tariffs as stocks fall
In this Wednesday, July 4, 201, photo, people walk by an electronic stock board of a securities firm in Tokyo. Asian markets are mixed as the U.S. prepares to impose billions of dollars of tariffs on China, raising tensions between the world's two largest economies. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

SINGAPORE (AP) — Asian markets tumbled Thursday as China reiterated its determination to protect its interests in a rancorous trade dispute with Washington. Trading was subdued in the absence of leads from Wall Street with markets closed for the Independence Day holiday.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan’s Nikkei 225 index fell 0.8 percent to 21,546.99 and the Shanghai Composite index dropped 1.0 percent to 2,731.73. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index tumbled 1.1 percent to 27,935.13 and the Kospi in South Korea lost 0.5 percent to 2,255.23. Australia’s S&P ASX/200 bucked the regional trend, adding 0.5 percent to 6,215.50. Shares fell in Taiwan and Southeast Asian indexes were mostly lower.

US-CHINA TARIFFS: The Trump administration is set to impose a 25 percent tariff on billion worth of Chinese imports starting Friday. It won’t target an additional billion worth of Chinese goods until it gathers further public comments. China has said that it won’t make the first move. But it is expected to quickly retaliate with a similar amount of tariffs on American goods, including soybeans, electric cars and whiskey. On Thursday, Commerce Ministry spokesman Gao Feng hit back at “threats and blackmail” ahead of the planned U.S. tariff hike. He added that China would be forced to fight back to protect its own interests.

ANALYST’S TAKE: “We are now two steps removed from the worries of trade tensions as the tariffs deadline looms, locking equity markets in a lackluster trading tone,” said Jingyi Pan of IG.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude dropped 27 cents to .87 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract settled at .14 a barrel on Tuesday, after ticking up to over a barrel in early trading. Brent crude, used to price international oils, shed 47 cents to .77 per barrel.

CURRENCIES: The dollar ticked up to 110.55 yen from 110.51 yen on Wednesday. The euro rose to .1704 from .1641.