Asian shares decline as China reports slowdown in exports

BANGKOK (AP) — Shares were lower in Asia yesterday, extending the latest losses on Wall Street, as China reported a slowdown in exports.


Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index lost 1.4 per cent to 26,299.19 while the Shanghai Composite fell 0.6 per cent to 2,539.59. The Kospi in South Korea declined 0.7 per cent to 2,061.25 and Australia’s S&P ASX 200 gave up 0.3 per cent to 5,757.50. India’s Sensex dropped 0.6 per cent to 35,801.95. Shares also fell in Southeast Asia. Japan’s markets were closed for a holiday.


China said yesterday that its exports to the United States (US) contracted in December although its overall trade surplus with the US hit a record USD323 billion in 2018. Exports to the US rose 11.3 per cent to USD478.4 billion for the year despite punitive tariffs imposed by President Donald Trump in a fight over Chinese technology ambitions. The customs data showed imports of American goods rose just 0.7 per cent over 2017, reflecting the impact of Beijing’s retaliatory tariffs and encouragement to importers to buy more from non-US suppliers.


US stock indexes finished a hair lower last Friday after the falling price of oil weighed on energy companies. The S&P 500 nevertheless closed out its third straight winning week following a brutal stretch in December, edging 0.1 per cent lower to 2,596.26. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dipped less than 0.1 per cent to 23,995.95 and the Nasdaq composite lost 0.2 per cent, to 6,971.48. The Russell 2000 index of smaller stocks ticked up 0.1 per cent to 1,447.38.


“Risk has continued to veer averse today as pre-earnings jitters amid a torrent of turbulent crosscurrents have investors adopting a more defensive approach even after the Fed indicated patience on further rate hikes,” Stephen Innes of Oanda said in a commentary.


Benchmark US crude oil gave up 50 cents to USD51.09 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It lost 1.9 per cent to settle at USD51.59 per barrel last Friday. Brent crude, the international standard, lost 60 cents to USD59.88. It sank 1.9 per cent to USD60.48 a barrel in London.


The dollar was trading at 108.13 yen, down from 108.48 yen last Friday. The euro rose to USD1.1474 from USD1.1466.

A screen showing the Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) at the Korea Exchange in Seoul, South Korea. – AP