Asian markets head into weekend with losses as G7 looms

AFP – Asian markets retreated on Friday at the end of a broadly positive week, with traders turning their attention to a Group of Seven summit that could see world leaders clash with Donald Trump over his latest tariff provocations.

While there remain concerns about a possible trade war and other geopolitical issues, equities have enjoyed a positive run since last Friday’s strong US jobs report that fuelled optimism in the global outlook.

The euro has also held on to its latest gains on expectations the European Central Bank will soon start winding down its crisis-era stimulus, while oil added to Thursday’s rally as Venezuela struggles to produce and export.

Japan’s Nikkei ended the morning session 0.1 percent down, while Hong Kong lost one percent after a six-day run.

Shanghai slipped 0.9 percent ahead of key Chinese trade data, Sydney lost 0.1 percent, Singapore was down 0.5 percent and Seoul dropped 0.7 percent.

Taipei, Manila and Jakarta were also down.

As leaders arrive in Quebec for the G7 meeting, there is talk that Trump could expect some harsh words after he imposed tariffs on steel and aluminium from Canada, Mexico and the European Union.

The move has led to retaliatory measures and sparked fears of a global trade war.

– Tense talks –

"Usually (the G7 summit is) a non-event for markets but with all the focus on escalating trade tensions amongst long-standing allies, there’s a good reason for investors to be chary as this meeting is unlikely to follow an orderly arrangement of discussion," said Stephen Innes, head of Asia-Pacific trade at OANDA.





"Even more so as Canada and Mexico have retaliated against a range of US exports and the EU has promised to do so as well."

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have said they expect tense discussions, while France’s Emmanuel Macron said governments should not be shy about making deals without Washington.

The White House’s stance on environmental issues is also expected to be on the agenda.

However, there is hope over China-US trade talks after they reached a deal allowing Chinese telecoms equipment maker ZTE to pay a $1.4 billion fine instead of being hit by a seven-year ban on selling to US firms.

Oil prices were marginally higher a day after jumping at least two percent on a report that major producer Venezuela was struggling to ship its commodity.

Also providing support were signs of cracks in oil cartel OPEC, with some members not as keen As kingpin Saudi Arabia to end an output cap that has been in place with Russia for two years.

"While oil prices may have seen their near-term peaks, it’s highly unlikely prices will collapse but rather OPEC, through gradual supply increases, will guide prices low enough so US consumers will not feel the pinch, yet remain high enough to benefit the industry going forward," Innes added.

– Key figures around 0230 GMT –

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.1 percent at 22,799.69 (break)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: DOWN 1.0 percent at 31,212.56

Shanghai – Composite: DOWN 0.9 percent at 3,080.75

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1803 from $1.1799 at 2100 GMT

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3419 from $1.3421

Dollar/yen: UP at 109.76 yen from 109.73 yen

Oil – West Texas Intermediate: UP 13 cents at $66.08

Oil – Brent Crude: UP one cent at $77.33 per barrel

New York – Dow Jones: UP 0.4 percent at 25,241.41 (close)

London – FTSE 100: DOWN 0.1 percent at 7,704.40 (close)

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