Trade War Dampens Investor Sentiment

Major markets in Asia Pacific closed higher on Monday, following a volatile week for global markets as growing trade war fears dented investor sentiment.

Markets in Japan and Singapore were shuttered for holidays.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index dumped 114.58 points, or 0.4%, to 25,824.72

But, shares of Hong Kong flag carrier Cathay Pacific tumbled more than 4% as of late afternoon local time, after it suspended a pilot for his involvement in the ongoing anti-government protests in the city. The carrier said “overly radical” staff would be barred from crewing flights to the mainland. Cathay’s decision came a day after China’s aviation authority issued a “major aviation safety risk warning” to the airline.

Unrest in Hong Kong continued into its 10th week, with police and protesters clashing on Sunday.

Australian stocks moved marginally higher. Major miners struggled for gains: Rio Tinto shares tumbled 2.8%, BHPshares were down 0.75% and Fortescue dropped 4%.

The Japanese yen strengthened against the U.S. dollar to 105.48 from an earlier low of 105.97 in the previous week. It is also expected to be driven by "safe-haven" demand this week.

Elsewhere, the Australian dollar changed hands at $0.6781, off the $0.6887 reached late last week.

CHINA

In Shanghai, the CSI 300 gained 65.57 points, or 1.8%, to 3,699.10

U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday the U.S. is not ready to strike a trade deal with China. "China wants to do something, but I’m not doing anything yet,” Trump said. “Twenty-five years of abuse. I’m not ready so fast."

Both sides are set to resume trade negotiations in Washington in early September. At the same time, a new 10% tariff on additional $300 billion worth of Chinese goods are due to go into effect beginning Sept. 1.

In a note dated Aug. 12, UBS economists downgraded China’s growth outlook as a result of the 10% levy the U.S. is set to impose on additional Chinese goods.

Investors kept a close eye on the yuan after China’s central bank fixed Monday’s yuan midpoint at 7.0211 per U.S. dollar — it was the third consecutive session where the People’s Bank of China set the official reference rate weaker than the psychologically important seven-yuan-per-dollar level.

Onshore yuan traded at 7.0644 per dollar while the offshore yuan traded around 7.0953

In other markets

In Taiwan, the Taiex returned from a long weekend to shed 22.13, or 0.2%, to 10.472.36

The Kospi in Korea gained 4.54 points, or 0.2%, to 1,942.29

In New Zealand, the NZX 50 shaved off 0.47 points to 10,872.74

In Australia, the ASX 200 squeezed ahead 5.83 points, or 0.1%, to 6,590.27