Chinese Stocks Off as Trump Backs Protesters

Stocks in Asia declined on Thursday as bills backing protesters in Hong Kong were signed into law by U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 retreated 28.63 points, or 0.1%, to 23,409.14. Shares of Panasonic surged 2.8% after the Nikkei Asian Review reported Thursday that the firm will sell its semiconductor business to Taiwan’s Nuvoton Technology.

The Japanese yen traded at 109.38 per U.S. dollar after seeing highs below 108.8 earlier in the week.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index lost 60.27 points, or 0.2%, to 26,893.73. Hong Kong-listed shares of Alibaba continued to see strong gains as they soared 5.6% following their blockbuster debut on Tuesday, ahead of the broad market

Trump signed into law two bills backing protesters in Hong Kong, according to a White House statement. That move came despite past objections by China amid ongoing trade negotiations between Beijing and Washington for an anticipated "phase one" deal.

Hong Kong’s government on Thursday voiced strong opposition to the move, saying it will send the wrong signal to protesters.

The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.6762 after declining from levels above $0.678 yesterday.

In other markets

In Shanghai, the CSI 300 dropped 13.32 points, or 0.3%, to 3,862.30

In Taiwan, the Taiex fell 30.38 points, or 0.3%, to 11,617.08

In Korea, the Kospi set aside 9.25 points, or 0.4%, to 2,118.60

In Singapore, the Straits Times Index decreased 14.92 points, or 0.5%, to 3,200.61

In New Zealand, the NZX hiked 86.48 points, or 0.8%, to 11,207.69

In Australia, the ASX 200 acquired 13.4 points, or 0.2%, to 6,864