Asian shares look set for declines as trade concerns return to the fore

Asian shares look set for declines as trade concerns return to the fore
Asian shares look set for declines as trade concerns return to the fore

Asian markets were set to open lower on Friday as trade tensions returned to the spotlight after the U.S. announced tariffs on steel and aluminum imports on several of its allies would be reapplied.

Nikkei futures traded in Chicago were lower by 0.39 percent compared to the index's Thursday close. Australian SPI futures also came under slight pressure, declining 0.12 percent at the end of the last session.

Markets in Indonesia will be closed on Friday for a holiday.

Trade concerns returned to the fore after the Trump administration said tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada, Mexico and the European Union would take effect Thursday midnight U.S. time. The countries had previously been exempted from those tariffs, originally announced in March.

Canada plans to impose dollar-for-dollar tariffs on the U.S. in retaliation, according to the country's foreign minister. The EU, another U.S. ally, said it would introduce countermeasures.

U.S. stocks closed lower amid concerns the moves could lead to a trade war: The Dow Jones industrial average declined 1.02 percent, or 251.94 points, to close at 24,415.84, the S&P 500 lost 0.69 percent to end at 2,705.27 and the Nasdaq composite shed 0.27 percent to finish at 7,442.12.

Still, major U.S. stock indexes finished the month with gains, with the Dow up 1.05 percent for the month. The Nasdaq rose 5.32 percent in May.

Elsewhere, political turmoil in Italy that had spooked global markets this week took a back seat after anti-establishment parties in the country came to a consensus on forming a coalition government.

The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of currencies, stood at 93.985 at the end of Thursday. Against the yen, the dollar traded at 108.79 at 6:54 a.m. HK/SIN.

Meanwhile, Brent crude futures settled 14 cents lower at $77.56 per barrel and U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude fell $1.17 to settle at $67.04.

What's on tap 

Here's the economic calendar for Friday (all times in HK/SIN):

  • 8:00 a.m.: South Korea trade data
  • 9:00 a.m.: Australia new home sales
  • 9:45 a.m.: China Caixin manufacturing PMI

Ahead, investors awaited the release of May nonfarm payrolls during U.S. hours as markets consider how many times the Federal Reserve will raise rates this year.

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