Asia Tumbles as Trade War Intensifies

Stocks in Asia fell Monday following an escalation in the U.S.-China trade war late last week.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 index collapsed 449.87 points, or 2.2%, to close Monday at 20,261.04. That came despite Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s recent agreement on the principles of a trade deal with U.S. President Donald Trump.

The Japanese yen, often viewed as a safe-haven currency during times of market turmoil, traded at 105.78 against the U.S. dollar after touching an earlier high of 104.44.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index plunged 499 points, or 1.9%, to 25,680.33, following another weekend of violent protests in the city.

The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.6758 after slipping from highs above $0.678 the previous trading week.

CHINA

In Shanghai, the CSI 300 subtracted 54.95 points, or 1.4%, to 3,765.91

Trump said Monday that China called U.S. negotiators on Sunday to say they wanted to negotiate, following a recent escalation in the trade war between Washington and Beijing.

Trump tweeted last Friday that America will hike tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods to 30% from 25%. Tariffs on another $300 billion in Chinese products will also go up to 15% from 10%, Trump said. The levies on the $250 billion worth of goods are scheduled to kick in Oct. 1, while the duties on the $300 billion are set to go into effect in two stages on Sept. 1 and Dec. 15.

At the G-7 summit over the weekend in France, Trump said he regrets not raising tariffs even higher, adding that he could declare the U.S.-China trade war a national emergency.

Beijing unveiled new tariffs last Friday on $75 billion of U.S. goods. That was in response to Trump’s surprise announcement earlier this month that the U.S. would impose duties on another $300 billion of Chinese goods — some of these items have since been delayed to December or removed from the list.

Amid the market turmoil, the offshore Chinese yuan fell to a record low against the dollar. It last traded at 7.1510. Its onshore counterpart was at 7.1418 against the greenback after the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) set the official midpoint reference at 7.0570 per dollar.

In other markets

In Korea, the Kospi index slipped 31.99 points, or 1.6%, to 1,916.31

In Taiwan, the Taiex stumbled 183.54 point, or 1.7%, to 10,354.57

In Singapore, the Straits Times Index shed 45.02 points, or 1.5%, to 3,065.33

In New Zealand, the NZX 50 slid 133.88 points, or 1.3%, to 10,483.47

In Australia, the ASX 200 lost 83.08 points, or 1.3%, to 6,440.06