Asia Slides on Trade Fears

Asian markets closed lower in choppy Wednesday trade following news that a top Trump economic advisor had resigned.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 lost 165.04 points, or 0.8%, to 21,252.72. The index had pared losses of around 1% earlier in the day to hover around the flat line, before sliding once again.

The iron and steel sector, which would likely be affected if recently announced tariffs were implemented by the Trump administration, fell by 2.1%.

In corporate news, Japan's Kobe Steel on Tuesday said CEO Hiroya Kawasaki would resign on April 1 following a data falsification scandal.

Shares of Kobe Steel were down 7.4%, underperforming the broader index.

The U.S. dollar slid against the safe-haven yen on the news, fetching 105.54, after falling as low as 105.43 earlier and compared to the 106.1 handle seen at the end of the New York session.

The Hang Seng Index eased back 313.81 points, or 1%, to 30,196.62

Korean markets were also off, after posting gains earlier in the day. Despite the broader sentiment in the market, heavyweight Samsung Electronics advanced 3.4% and SK Hynix edged up 0.4%.

Overnight news that North Korea was open to talks with the U.S. on de-nuclearization was also in focus as stocks with exposure to North Korea jumped. Shinwon, which reports said formerly managed factories in the Kaesong industrialized zone, surged 21.8%.

In Australia, all of the benchmark's sub-indexes finished the day in the red, with the exception of gold producer stocks, which rose 1.5%.
The heavily weighted financials sub-index lost 1.1% as Australia's "Big Four" banking stocks edged down.


The CSI 300 dropped 29.91 points, or 0.7%, to 4,036.65

Despite the broader declines seen in greater China markets, banking stocks listed on the mainland got a boost after media reports on Tuesday that regulators intended to cut the proportion of funds required to cover bad debt. China Construction Bank finished the day up 1.9% and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China advanced 1.4%

In other markets

In Taiwan, the Taiex fell 39.02 points, or 0.4%, to 10,745.32

In Korea, the Kospi settled 9.59 points, or 0.4%, to 2,401.82

In Singapore, the Straits Times Index swooned 41.23 points, or 1.2%, to 3,450.69

In New Zealand, the NZX 50 slumped 43.32 points, or 0.5%, to 8,284.34

The ASX 200 slouched 60.45 points, or 1%, to 5,901.99