Asia Markets: Asian markets fall as China reports slowdown in exports

Shares were lower in Asia on Monday, extending the latest losses on Wall Street, as China reported a slowdown in exports.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index HSI, -1.43%   lost 1.4% while the Shanghai Composite SHCOMP, -0.60%   fell 0.6%. The Kospi SEU, -0.64%   in South Korea declined 0.7% and Australia’s S&P ASX 200 XJO, -0.04%   gave up 0.3%. Shares also fell in Taiwan Y9999, -0.69%   and Southeast Asia. Japan’s markets were closed for a holiday.

Among individual stocks, oil producer CNOOC 0883, -3.59%   and tech giant Tencent 0700, -2.60%   each fell in Hong Kong trading, chip maker SK Hynix 000660, -4.15%   tumbled in South Korea and Taiwan Semiconductor 2330, -1.36%   slipped in Taiwan.

China said Monday that its exports to the U.S. contracted in December although its overall trade surplus with the U.S. hit a record $323 billion in 2018. Exports to the U.S. rose 11.3% to $478.4 billion for the year despite punitive tariffs imposed by President Donald Trump in a fight over Chinese technology ambitions. The customs data showed imports of American goods rose just 0.7% over 2017, reflecting the impact of Beijing’s retaliatory tariffs and encouragement to importers to buy more from non-U.S. suppliers.

U.S. stock indexes finished a hair lower on Friday after the falling price of oil weighed on energy companies. The S&P 500 SPX, -0.01%   nevertheless closed out its third straight winning week following a brutal stretch in December, edging 0.1% lower to 2,596.26. The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -0.02%   dipped less than 0.1% to 23,995.95 and the Nasdaq composite COMP, -0.21%   lost 0.2% to 6,971.48.

“Risk has continued to veer averse today as pre-earnings jitters amid a torrent of turbulent crosscurrents have investors adopting a more defensive approach even after the Fed indicated patience on further rate hikes,” Stephen Innes of Oanda said in a commentary. “The markets were heading into today China’s trade data, expecting leading indicators of regional trade will be weak, and export orders point at a continued weakening sentiment. Which indeed proved to be the case.”

Benchmark U.S. crude oil CLG9, -1.10%   gave up 50 cents to $51.09 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It lost 1.9 percent to settle at $51.59 per barrel on Friday. Brent crude LCOH9, -1.12%  , the international standard, lost 60 cents to $59.88. It sank 1.9 percent to $60.48 a barrel in London.

The dollar USDJPY, -0.41%   was trading at 108.13 yen, down from 108.48 yen on Friday.

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