Asia Down on China Trade Data

Asia Pacific markets started off the trading week mostly on the back foot as China’s disappointing trade data spooked investors.

Markets in Japan were shuttered for holiday. Meanwhile, the Japanese yen, considered a safe haven asset, was at 108.12 to the U.S. dollar.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index deleted 368.44 points, or 1.4%, to 26,298.33,

Korean markets declined, as some of the tech names struggled.

Samsung Electronics, the world’s largest smartphone maker, fell 1.1% while its chip-making rival SK Hynix tumbled 4.6%. Shares of internet firm Naver fell 3.1%

Elsewhere, in company news, Singapore-listed real estate developer CapitaLand said on Monday it has entered into an agreement to acquire Ascendas-Singbridge. It would make the combined entity Asia’s largest diversified real estate group, the company said. Trading of CapitaLand shares were halted ahead of the announcement.

Australian markets dipped slightly, as the energy sector declined 0.8%

Meanwhile, the Australian dollar traded at $0.7182 U.S. Monday, coming off an earlier session high of $0.7217.

In Shanghai, the CSI 300 dropped 27 points, or 0.9%, to 3,067.78

Shares in Asia were lower after Chinese government data showed that December exports and imports fell unexpectedly, deepening concerns of a slowdown in the world’s second-largest economy as Beijing’s trade war with the U.S. appeared to be taking a toll.

China’s trade surplus with the U.S. — closely watched amid a bitter trade war between Washington and Beijing — grew 17% from a year ago. According to media reports, that’s the highest on record dating back to 2006. Still, overall Chinese trade surplus last year was the lowest since 2013, the news agency reported.

China’s central bank set the yuan midpoint at 6.7560 against the dollar before market open — it was the strongest since Jul. 19, 2018, according to financial data provider Wind.

On-shore yuan traded at 6.7649 versus the greenback. The People’s Bank of China allows the exchange rate to rise or fall 2% from the official midpoint rate it sets daily.

In other markets

In Singapore, the Straits Times Index lost 25.19 points, or 0.8%, to 3,173.46

In Korea, the Kospi index docked 11.05 points, or 0.5%, to 2,064.52

In Taiwan, the Taiex index fell 51.18 points, or 0.5%, to 9,708.22

In New Zealand, the NZX 50 bucked the trend and gained 8.97 points, or 0.1%, to 8,968.55

In Australia, the ASX 200 slipped 1.21 points to 5,773.37