Trade jitters weigh on Asia stocks

Asian stocks closed lower on the last trading day of the week as uncertainty over U.S.-China trade relations lingered.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 plummeted 300.31 points, or 1.3%, to 22,298.08, with miners and shipping sector stocks leading overall declines. Semiconductor-related plays were also down, with Tokyo Electron dropping 3.6%

Against the yen, the U.S. dollar softened to 111.02, after earlier slipping below the 111 level during Asian trade.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng gave back 240.68 points, or 0.8%, to 28,366.62, with services, materials and energy weighing on the benchmark before the market close.

Korean markets sagged as major technology names dragged the index lower. Samsung Electronics fell 3.2% and SK Hynix declined 3.7%.

Australian markets lost ground, with energy leading losses, losing 1.8% while the heavily-weighted financials sector recorded slim gains.

In its monetary policy statement, the Reserve Bank of Australia said growth was likely to come in above 3% in 2018 and 2019. It also noted that inflation "is likely to be a bit lower in the near term."


In Shanghai, the CSI 300 gained 7.49 points, or 0.2%, to 3,405.02.

Trade concerns have also been in the spotlight, with China announcing earlier this week that it would retaliate against recent U.S. tariffs. The Chinese Ministry of Commerce announced Wednesday a 25% tariff on $16 billion in U.S. goods, a move that came after the U.S. Trade Representative's office said duties on $16 billion in Chinese imports would take effect on Aug. 23.

In other markets

In Singapore, the Straits Times STI index returned from holiday to shed 41.96 points, or 1.3%, to 3,284.78

In Taiwan, the Taiex index dropped 44.39 points, or 0.4%, to 10,983.68

In Korea, the Kospi index faded 20.92 points, or 0.9%, to 2,282.79

In New Zealand, the NZX 50 gained 70.42 points, or 0.8%, to 9,010.61

In Australia, the ASX 200 dipped 19.26 points, or 0.3%, to 6,278.40