Asia shares fall as US-China tensions douse rally on Wall St

Asia shares fall as US-China tensions douse rally on Wall St


BANGKOK (AP) — Shares fell Friday in Asia as investors awaited a news conference about China by President Donald Trump later in the day.

Benchmarks declined in Hong Kong, Tokyo and Sydney but rose in Shanghai.

U.S. and Chinese officials have been trading harsh rhetoric recently on everything from Hong Kong to the response to the coronavirus outbreak. One fear is that further friction could lead to another punishing round of escalating tariffs between the two countries that would hit the global economy when it’s already in a severe recession due to the coronavirus pandemic.

China’s National People’s Congress on Thursday approved a national security law aimed at suppressing secessionist and subversive activity in Hong Kong, overriding any potential opposition by local lawmakers.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said the law means Washington may no longer treat the former British colony, already reeling from anti-government protests and the pandemic, as autonomous from Beijing. That could undermine the city's status as a major center for trade and finance.

“The concerns are that this escalates over the course of the summer,” said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Financial. “It’s like lighting a match.”

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index dropped 0.6% to 23,007.15 on Friday, while Japan's Nikkei 225 index fell 0.2% to 21,877.89. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 skidded 0.8% to 5,801.90.

The Kospi in South Korea added 0.4% to 2,037.37, while the Shanghai edged 0.1% higher to 2,849.52.

Weak economic data from Japan also cast a pall, as the government reported that industrial production fell more than 9% in April from the month before, while retail sales dropped nearly 10%, month-on-month. That was the biggest fall since a sales tax hike in...

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