Stocks Mixed on Trump-Toyota Tilt

Markets in Asia finished mixed Friday, with most Japanese automakers coming under pressure after U.S. President-elect Donald Trump threatened Toyota with hefty taxes and the yen climbed against the U.S. dollar.

The Nikkei 225 Index lost 66.36 points, or 0.3%, to finish a short week at 19,454.33, but posted a 1.7% gain for that week.

The Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong gained 46.32 points, or 0.2%, to 22,503.01

Shares of Toyota fell 1.7% Nissan was down 2.2%, Honda off by 1.9%, Mazda Motor down 3.2% and Mitsubishi Motors off by 2.6%

On Thursday, Trump rebuked Toyota on Twitter and threatened the automaker with a large border tax if it builds a new plant outside the U.S. In response, on Friday, Japan's trade minister Hiroshige Seko said Japanese companies have and will continue to contribute to employment in the U.S.

Meanwhile, the yen strengthened to 116.03 against the U.S. dollar on Friday afternoon Asia time, from levels above 118.00 earlier in the week.

Elsewhere, Australian markets closed near flat. Shares failed to react to government data on Friday, which showed a surprise trade surplus in November of A$1.243 billion ($912 billion U.S.), the first in nearly three years. The Australian Bureau of Statistics data showed exports jumped 8% on-month, beating analysts' expectations, while imports remained unchanged.

The Australian dollar fetched $0.7316 U.S.

In company news, electronics giant Samsung predicted a 50% rise in operating profit for the October-December quarter. Samsung shares climbed 1.80 percent to 1,810,000 won, soundly beating the broader South Korean index.


In Shanghai, the CSI 300 dropped 20.12 points to 3,347.67

On Thursday, China's yuan climbed at its fastest pace against the greenback in a year in offshore trade, offering some relief to a currency bedeviled by capital outflow concerns recently. The dollar fetched as little as 6.8071 yuan in intraday, offshore trade on Thursday, the pair's lowest since November. By contrast, the onshore yuan traded at 6.8952 against the U.S. dollar.

On Friday, the onshore yuan traded at 6.9272 against the U.S. dollar, while the offshore yuan was at 6.8278.

In other markets

In Korea, the Kospi recovered 7.17 points, or 0.4%, to 2,049.12

The Straits Times Index in Singapore strengthened 8.49 points, or 0.3%, to 2,962.63

In Taiwan, the Taiex Index gained 14.08 points, or 0.2%, to 9,372.22

In New Zealand, the NZX 50 eased back 4.94 points, or 0.1%, to 6,970.66

Australia's ASX 200 added 2.23 points at 5,755.58