Investing.com-- Most Asian stocks fell on Thursday as trade data pointed to continued weakness in the Chinese economy, while regional technology shares were hit by the prospect of more U.S. curbs on China after officials balked at a supposed Chinese chip breakthrough.
Wall Street indexes provided a weak lead-in to regional shares as stronger-than-expected U.S. service sector data pushed up concerns over sticky inflation. This fueled a sell-off in technology stocks, as did weakness in Apple Inc (NASDAQ: AAPL ), after China ordered government employees to stop using foreign devices, including Apple’s iPhones.
Asian tech slammed by Apple weakness, renewed U.S.-China fears
Shares of Asian Apple suppliers, including Samsung Electronics Co Ltd (KS: 005930 ), AAC Technologies Holdings Inc (HK: 2018 ), Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd (TW: 2317 ) and Japan Display Inc (TYO: 6740 ) all retreated, given that the Chinese move came just days before the launch of the new iPhone 15 range.
But in addition to the Apple news, Asian technology stocks were also hit by suggestions from top Republican lawmakers that the U.S. should end all technology exports to China’s Huawei and Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp (SMIC) (HK: 0981 ), after the two unveiled new chips that allegedly violated recent trade restrictions.
SMIC was the worst performer on the Hang Seng, down over 6% after U.S. lawmakers alleged that the firm’s new chips, which were featured in Huawei phones, were produced using restricted U.S. technology.
The rhetoric could spur more U.S. restrictions on tech exports to China, and could potentially invite retaliatory measures from Beijing, heralding further destabilization in global trade.
Chinese stocks sink amid growth risks, trade data offers little cheer
China’s Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 and Shanghai Composite indexes fell 0.8% and 0.5%, respectively, with the prospect of renewed Sino-U.S. tensions also coming as China struggles with a slowing economic recovery.
While data showed that China’s imports and exports shrank at a slower-than-expected pace in August, they still remained close to historic lows, as businesses grappled with sluggish local and overseas demand.
China’s trade surplus also shrank more than expected to a two-month low, as relatively steady imports offset dwindling exports.
Concerns over China spilled over into other markets, with Australia’s ASX 200 down over 1%. The country’s trade surplus also shrank more than expected in July, hitting a 17-month low as commodity exports to China dried up.
On the other hand, losses in Japanese stocks were limited, especially as recent comments from Bank of Japan officials suggested that the bank will maintain its easy monetary policy for the time being. The Nikkei 225 shed 0.2%, while the broader TOPIX was flat.
Futures for India’s Nifty 50 index pointed to a muted open, with heavyweight technology stocks expected to track their U.S. peers.
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