Asian Markets Fall Amid US-China Trade Wars

October 2, 2018 – Asian shares fell today as relief that the United States had brokered a trade deal with Canada gave way to concerns that negotiations with China were at a standstill.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 was less than 0.1 percent lower at 24,235.80. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng tumbled 2.0 percent to 27,225.95. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 lost 0.6 percent to 6,132.60, after the Reserve Bank of Australia maintained its economic outlook and kept its benchmark interest rate at a record-low 1.5 percent. South Korea’s Kospi lost 1.1 percent to 2,313.46. Markets in the Chinese mainland were closed for a week-long holiday.

Stocks advanced after the U.S. and Canada agreed to a new trade deal, but the rally fizzled, leaving major indexes mixed on Monday. The S&P 500 index added 0.4 percent to 2,924.59. The Nasdaq composite fell 0.1 percent to 8,037.30, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 0.7 percent to 26,651.21. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks gave up 1.4 percent to 1,672.99, its worst loss since late June.

U.S.-CANADA DEAL: Canada joined the revamped North American trade agreement with the U.S. and Mexico late Sunday after weeks of negotiations. On Monday, President Donald Trump hailed the agreement as a breakthrough for U.S. workers and vowed to sign it by late November. Trump branded the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement as “USMCA” and added that the new name had a “good ring to it.” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the deal was a “win-win-win for all three countries.” But the new agreement still faces a lengthy path to congressional approval, having been a lightning rod for criticism among labor unions and manufacturing workers.

“The revamped trade pact adds to KORUS, the bilateral trade agreement between the U.S. and Korea, to show that the Trump administration has capacity to strike trade deals,” Zhu Huani of Mizuho Bank said in a commentary. “Nonetheless, a protracted trade war with China is still expected given both sides have little appetite for further negotiation at this juncture,” she added.

Tesla logged its biggest gain in five years after company founder Elon Musk reached a settlement with securities regulators that will allow him to stay on as CEO of the electric car maker. Its stock soared over 17.3 percent to $310.70. Musk agreed to give up the chairman’s role for at least three years, while Tesla will appoint two new, independent directors to its board. On Friday, Tesla plunged 14 percent after the Securities and Exchange Commission said Musk had misled investors with a tweet saying he had secured the funding to take Tesla private. The SEC said in a court filing that it wanted to bar Musk from serving as an officer or director of a publicly traded company and called his actions securities fraud.

Benchmark U.S. crude added 29 cents to $75.59. The contract climbed 2.8 percent to $75.30 a barrel in New York on Monday, its highest price since November 2014. Brent crude, used to price international oils, added 8 cents to $85.06 per barrel in London. It was also trading at four-year highs, after adding 2.7 percent to $84.98 per barrel in London.

The dollar weakened to 113.84 yen from 113.92 yen on Monday. The euro fell to $1.1538 from $1.1575. The Canadian dollar rose to $1.2823 from $1.2787.