Markets were nervous after Beijing on Thursday threatened countermeasures if the additional 25 percent tariff on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, ordered by U.S. President Donald Trump, came into force on Friday.
Chinese Vice Premier Liu He is expected to meet U.S.officials in Washington on Thursday and Friday for negotiations, as China attempts to scrape out a deal to avert the sharp rise in tariffs, following U.S. accusations that Beijing had backtracked on earlier commitments.
“The region is anxious about the possibility that the U.S.and China may not reach a trade deal after all, which many people had already priced in in prior months,” said Fio Dejesus, equity research analyst at RCBC Securities.
The Philippine index was the biggest loser in Southeast Asia, falling as much as 2.1 percent, with financials and industrials as top drags, after data on Thursday showed that the country’s economy grew at its weakest pace in four years in the first quarter.
The archipelago nation’s economy grew 5.6 percent in the first three months of the year, slower than the 6.1 percent forecast in a Reuters poll, with the economic planning secretary indicating inflation to slow further in coming quarters.
The soft data is expected to prompt the central bank to lower key interest rates when it meets later in the day.
Malaysian shares fell about 0.7 percent to their lowest since April 23, dragged by food and beverage products maker Nestle (Malaysia) and synthetic rubber gloves maker Hartalega Holdings, with both shedding more than 2 percent.
Singapore fell 0.5 percent to its lowest since April 2 led by consumer goods and industrials.
The city-state is most affected by the U.S.-China trade turmoil in the region, as the two biggest economies in the world are its biggest export destinations.
Bucking the trend, Thai stocks edged higher, driven by Thai Optical Group’s 20 percent climb as it hit its highest in more than a year. - Reuters
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