Asian stocks ended lower on Wednesday amid lingering uncertainties surrounding the U.S.-China trade friction after U.S. President Donald Trump said that he was holding up a trade deal with China and had no interest in moving ahead unless Beijing agrees to four or five “major points” which he did not specify.
Chinese shares fell after the release of weak factory inflation data and amid concerns over an escalation in the Sino-U.S. trade war. The benchmark Shanghai Composite index ended down 16.34 points or 0.56 percent at 2,909.38.
China’s consumer price inflation accelerated on food prices in May, while factory gate inflation slowed on weak commodity demand, data from National Bureau of Statistics showed.
Consumer prices advanced 2.7 percent year-on-year in May, after gaining 2.5 percent in April. The rate was the fastest in more than a year and came in line with expectations.
On the other hand, producer price inflation eased to 0.6 percent in May, as expected, from 0.9 percent in April. The decrease was largely due to the fall in manufactured industrial input prices.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index fell as much as 1.73 percent to 27,308.46 as thousands continued protests against the controversial China extraditions bill.
Japanese shares declined and the yen rose slightly against the dollar as investors fretted about a worsening U.S.-China relationship.
Investors ignored data showing an unexpected increase in Japan’s core machinery orders in April.
The total value of core machine orders in Japan advanced a seasonally adjusted 5.2 percent sequentially in April – standing at 913.7 billion yen. That beat forecasts for a drop of 0.8 percent following the 3.8 percent gain in March.
The Nikkei average dropped 74.56 points or 0.35 percent to 21,129.72 while the broader Topix index closed 0.45 percent lower at 1,554.22.
SoftBank Group shares fell 2.4 percent after a group of U.S. state governments filed a lawsuit to block the proposed merger of T-Mobile US and Sprint. Gaming giant Nintendo tumbled 3.5 percent after postponing the release of a popular game software.
Australian markets gave up early gains to end on a flat note. The S&P/ASX 200 index ended marginally lower at 6,543.70, snapping a five-session winning streak. The broader All Ordinaries index edged up 4.50 points to 6,628.90.
Miners BHP, Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals Group climbed 2-6 percent as copper prices hit their highest level in two weeks on news that local governments in China will have more room to spend on infrastructure, in a bid shore up the slowing economy.
Gold miners Evolution, Northern Star and Newcrest rallied 2-3 percent. Financials snapped a five-session winning streak, with the big four banks ending down between 0.8 percent and 1.4 percent.
Retailer Wesfarmers shed 0.8 percent after it agreed to buy online retailer Catch Group for $230 million.
Afterpay Touch Group soared 6.1 percent as it completed a A$317 million capital raising.
In economic news, Australia’s consumer confidence deteriorated in June as deepening concerns about the economy outweighed the initial boost from lower interest rates, survey data from Westpac showed. The corresponding index fell to 100.7 from 101.3 in May.
Seoul stocks snapped a four-day winning streak amid ongoing uncertainty around U.S.-China trade talks. The benchmark Kospi ended a choppy session down by 3.06 points or 0.14 percent at 2,108.75.
New Zealand shares rose notably, with the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index closing up 65.99 points or 0.65 percent at 10,205.14. Dairy products maker a2 Milk Company rose 1.2 percent, adding to a 3.2 percent gain in the previous session.
Indonesia’s Jakarta Composite index was down 0.6 percent. Indonesia’s central bank sees economic growth of 5.1-5.5 percent in 2020, while continuing to monitor global economic conditions to assess whether there is scope for an “accommodative monetary policy”, Bank Indonesia governor Perry Warjiyo said.
Singapore’s Straits Times index was down 0.3 percent, snapping a four-session winning streak.
Overnight, U.S. stocks finished marginally lower as the Trump administration escalated threats to hit Beijing with new tariffs and China’s foreign ministry reportedly said it would respond firmly if the U.S. insisted on escalating its standoff with China.
The Dow slipped 0.1 percent to snap a six-session winning streak while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite and the S&P 500 ended largely unchanged with a negative bias.