Asia Slows on Declining Growth Fears

Major Asian stock markets closed lower on Friday, following the release of U.S. retail data overnight which raised concerns over a slowing American economy. Investors await developments from the ongoing U.S-China trade negotiations in Beijing.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 tumbled 239.08 points, or 1.1%, to 21,139.71. Shares of Japanese conglomerate Softbank Group fell 4.4%.

The Japanese yen traded at 110.44 against the U.S. dollar after touching an earlier high of 110.25.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng plummeted 531.21 points, or 1.9%, to 27,900.84

Korean markets pointed downward, as shares of industry heavyweight Samsung Electronics jettisoned 3.1%, and chipmaker SK Hynix fell 4.7%

Australia bucked the overall trend in the region and rose, as the energy subindex rose 0.8% with oil stocks mostly gaining. Santos advanced 0.8%, Woodside Petroleum gained 1.5% and Beach Energy added 2.2%.

The Australian dollar was at $0.7092 after seeing an earlier high of $0.7107 U.S.

CHINA

In China, the CSI 300 lost 63.44 points, or 1.9%, to 3,338.70

The moves came after Chinese inflation data for January missed expectations, coming in at 1.7% higher as compared to a year ago, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Friday. Economists were expecting China's Consumer Price Index to come in at 1.9% higher on year. December CPI — a gauge of prices for goods and services — rose 1.9% over the same period.

Meanwhile, high level trade negotiations between China and the U.S. continued in Beijing as investors watched closely for developments.

In other markets

In Korea, the Kospi index dropped 29.76 points, or 1.3%, to 2,196.09

In Singapore, the Straits Times Index subtracted 13.42 points, or 0.4%, to 3,239.74

In Taiwan, the Taiex Index let go of 24.23 points, or 0.2%, to 10,064.78

In New Zealand, the NZX 50 settled 39.27 points, or 0.4%, to 9,245.65

In Australia, the ASX 200 went against the tide, and actually gained 6.72 points, or 0.1%, to 6,066.10