Asia Down on China Trade Figures

Stocks in Asia declined on Monday following significantly weaker-than-expected Chinese trade data released over the weekend.

The Nikkei 225 plummeted 459.18 points, or 2.1%, to 21,219.50,

Shares of Japan Display plunged 10.6% after the company earlier said it had no plans to cut production of its smartphone panels in December, following reports that it was planning to do so. Electronics firm Pioneer plummeted 27.3% on the back of its acquisition by Baring Private Equity Asia.

Also, Softbank saw its stock decline by 3.5% ahead of the public listing of its mobile unit on Dec. 19. Last year, SoftBank and Huawei jointly demonstrated potential use of the next generation of high-speed mobile internet.

The Japanese yen, widely viewed as a safe-haven currency, traded at 112.56 against the U.S. dollar after seeing lows around 113.8 last week.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index dropped 311.38 points, or 1.2%, to 25,752.38, as Hong Kong-listed shares of China Construction Bank slipped 1.4% and Chinese tech juggernaut Tencent lost 0.9%.

In Hong Kong, acoustic components supplier AAC Technologies slipped 0.7% while Chinasoft International, where Huawei is a strategic shareholder, fell more than 4%. Sunny Optical, which makes some of the lenses for Huawei phones, bucked the overall downward trend to rise 2.8%.

Meanwhile, South Korea’s Kospi also slipped with shares of chipmaker SK Hynix dropping 2%

Over in Australia, stocks closed sharply lower, with almost all sectors seeing losses.

The financial subindex Down Under fell 3.1% as shares of Australia’s so-called Big Four Banks declined. Australia and New Zealand Banking Group dropped 4.2% and Commonwealth Bank of Australia fell 3%. Westpac slipped 3.4% and National Australia Bank was down 2.5%.

The Australian dollar was at $0.7212 U.S. after touching highs around $0.739 in the previous week.

CHINA

In Shanghai, the CSI 300 lost 36.8 points, or 1.2%, to 3,144.76

China reported notably weaker than expected November exports and imports, which pointed to slower global and domestic demand and raised the possibility that Beijing may undertake more measures to boost growth.

November exports rose 5.4% from a year earlier, according to Chinese customs data on Saturday, which was below the 10% jump predicted.

That number was also the weakest performance since a 3% contraction in March. The customs data showed that annual growth for exports to all of China’s major partners slowed significantly.

Import growth was 3%, the slowest since October 2016, and a fraction of the 14.5% expected. Imports of iron ore fell for a second time, reflecting waning restocking demand at steel-mills as profit margins narrow.

China summoned the U.S. ambassador to Beijing, Terry Branstad, on Sunday to dispute the arrest of Chinese electronics giant Huawei’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou.

The official Xinhua news agency said Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng "lodged solemn representations and strong protests" with Branstad over Meng’s arrest. She is reportedly suspected of trying to evade U.S. trade curbs on Iran, and was detained on Dec. 1 in Vancouver.

On Saturday, Canadian Ambassador John McCallum was also summoned over Meng’s detention and warned of “grave consequences” if the Huawei executive was not released.

In other markets

In Taiwan, the Taiex index slumped 113.34 points, or 1.2%, to 9,647.54

In Korea, the Kospi index slouched 21.97 points, or 1.1%, at 2,053.79

In Singapore, the Straits Times Index declined 38.68 points, or 1.2%, to 3,072.44

In New Zealand, the NZX 50 plunged 107.3 points, or 1.2%, to 8,660.02

In Australia, the ASX 200 swooned 128.99 points, or 2.3%, to 5,552.50