ASIA-PAC MARKET WRAP: Trade war concerns dampen Asia, with Nikkei 225 dragged by firmer JPY amid Kuroda comments

Asia stocks were negative across the board as region followed suit from Wall St. where the majors posted their 3rd consecutive losing streak after reports of incoming Trump tariffs stoked trade war fears and amid raised prospects of 4 Fed hikes this year. The announcement by President Trump to set tariffs on aluminium and steel imports next week also resulted to a global backlash in which EU, Canada and Mexico vowed countermeasures or retaliation against the US, while the China Iron and Steel Association branded the measure as ‘stupid’. As such, ASX 200 (-0.7%), Nikkei 225 (-2.8%) and KOSPI (-1.0%) saw commodity-related pressure with steel names in Asia’s top US-bound steel exporters Japan and South Korea suffering the brunt of the impending tariffs, while heavily-exposed automakers were also reeling from the news. Hang Seng (-1.5%) and Shanghai Comp. (-0.6%) conformed to the downbeat tone, although weakness in the mainland was to a lesser extent as China was said to only export a limited amount of steel to US and after another weekly net liquidity injection by the PBoC. Finally, 10yr JGBs were initially higher with demand spurred amid a broad risk-averse tone and with the BoJ present in the market for 1yr-10yr JGBs under an unchanged Rinban operation, although pressure was later seen on comments from BoJ Governor Kuroda that they will be considering exit around fiscal 2019.