Asia markets mixed on trade tensions

Asia markets were mixed on Thursday as investors reacted to heightened trade tensions in the ongoing spat between the United States and China.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 fought its way higher 2.41 points to 23,674.93. The Japanese yen traded at 112.18 to the U.S. dollar

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng added 70.3 points, or 0.3%, to 27,477.67

Chinese online services company Meituan Dianping made its trading debut in Hong Kong. The stock traded at around 72.85 Hong Kong dollars in late afternoon trade, compared to Meituan's initial public offering price of HK$69 a share, which reports said valued the company at $53 billion U.S.

In Korea, shares of Samsung Electronics rose 2.4% and Hyundai Motor added nearly 2%.

Australian markets subsided, with most sectors declining. The energy subindex fell 1% and the heavily weighted financial sector was down 0.3%.

The Australian dollar was at $0.7273 U.S.

CHINA

In Shanghai, the CSI 300 dropped 2.35 points, or 0.1%, to 3,310.13

Beijing announced tariffs targeting more than 5,000 U.S. products — worth about $60 billion — will go into effect on Sept. 24. That came after the Trump administration said the U.S. will impose 10% tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports, and those duties will rise to 25% at the end of the year.

Premier Li Keqiang addressed the World Economic Forum in Tianjinon Wednesday, where he acknowledged that China is being confronted with a host of challenges and is facing "greater difficulties in keeping stable performance of the Chinese economy." But he insisted that China was comfortable with its economic situation, and that Beijing has prepared sufficient policy tools to boost the country's resilience in coping with various difficulties.

Li also said that China will not resort to competitive devaluation of the yuan amid the ongoing trade spat. While he did not directly mention the trade conflict, the prime minister said talk of Beijing deliberately weakening its currency was "groundless."

Analysts said Li's comments fortified investor sentiment.

On the same day, Jack Ma, founder and chairman of Chinese retail behemoth Alibaba, said his company no longer had intentions to bring one million jobs to the U.S., given the ongoing trade war between Beijing and Washington.

In other markets

In Singapore, the Straits Times STI index gained 3.86 points, or 0.1%, to 3,180.43

In Korea, the Kospi index regained 14.99 points, or 0.7%, to 2,323.45

In Taiwan, the Taiex index lost 25.86 points, or 0.2%, to 10,831.41

In New Zealand, the NZX 50 acquired 15.81 points, or 0.2%, to 9,360.87

In Australia, the ASX 200 slumped 20.46 points, or 0.3%, to 6,169.50