Asian Markets Down as Trade War Heats Up

A man stands by an electronic stock board of a securities firm in Tokyo, Monday. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

Asian shares were mostly lower Monday amid worries about trade tensions as the U.S. and China both started putting tariffs in motion. Markets in China and Hong Kong were closed for a national holiday.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index dropped 0.8 percent to 22,672.49 in afternoon trading. South Korea’s KOSPI lost 1.5 percent to 2,367.84. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.2 percent to 6,104.60. Southeast Asian indexes were mostly lower. Markets in China and Hong Kong were closed for a holiday.

The tariffs slapped on one another by the world’s two biggest economies are set to take effect from July 6. President Donald Trump has announced a 25-percent tariff on up to $50 billion in Chinese imports. China is retaliating by raising import duties on $34-billion worth of American goods, including soybeans, electric cars and whiskey.

Major U.S. benchmarks finished last week lower. The S&P 500 index dropped 0.1 percent to 2,779.66 and the Dow Jones industrial average lost 0.3 percent to 25,090.48. The Nasdaq composite dipped 0.2 percent to 7,746.38.

Oil futures extended their losses after reports that OPEC countries planned to increase production of oil by as much as 1.5 million barrels a day. Benchmark U.S. crude fell $1.14 to $63.92 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract lost $1.83 to settle at $65.06 per barrel on Friday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, slipped 52 cents to $72.92 in London.

The dollar inched down to 110.47 yen from 110.62 in late trading Friday. The euro weakened to $1.1597 from $1.1607.