ASIA-PAC MARKET WRAP: Stocks weaken after after another high-profile departure, as Trump’s top economic adviser Cohn resigns

Asia stocks were mostly lower as US political discord took the limelight once again after reports that National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn is to resign amid tariff disagreements. This latest high-profile White House departure dampened the risk appetite and weighed on US equity futures in which Emini S&P gapped lower by about 1% and DJIA futures saw losses of nearly 400 points. ASX 200 (-1.0%) underperformed with sentiment also dragged by weaker than expected GDP figures, while Nikkei 225 (-0.9%) was choppy and briefly found reprieve, before a firmer JPY ultimately weighed. Elsewhere, Shanghai Comp. (-0.2%) and Hang Seng (-0.9%) initially outperformed despite reports US may consider broad curbs on Chinese imports and takeovers, as well as news that ‘China hawk’ Peter Navarro was among the top 2 candidates to replace Cohn as Trump’s top economic adviser. However, gains in Chinese money market rates eventually proved to be the deciding factor and tipped bourses into the red. Finally, 10yr JGBs pared the opening safe-haven inflows to return flat, amid a similar indecisive risk tone in Japanese stocks and following an unchanged BoJ Rinban purchase announcement.