Japan’s Nikkei 225 index lost 0.5% to 23,293.91, while the Hang Seng in Hong Kong sank 2.1% to 26,335.06. The Shanghai Composite index shed 0.6% to 2,872.01 and Australia’s S&P ASX 200 gave up 0.3% to 6,846.00. South Korea’s Kospi slipped 1.5% to 2,087.96. Shares also fell in Taiwan and Southeast Asia.
Japan reported Friday that its factory output fell 4.2% in October, much worse than forecast and the biggest month-on-month drop since January 2018. The decline could mean industrial production will decline by 4% in the October-December quarter from the previous quarter, Tom Learmouth of Capital Economics said in a commentary.
He noted that forecasts by manufacturers do not suggest output is likely to rebound soon. Neighboring South Korea reported its industrial output declined 1.7% in October. “It suggests the U.S.-China trade dispute continues taking its toll on Asian economies, despite signs of some green shoots,” Jeffrey Halley of OANDA said in a report.
Stock markets fell Thursday in Europe and Asia after President Donald Trump signed a bill supporting human rights in Hong Kong, potentially increasing tensions as the U.S. and China talk about ending their trade war.
Overnight in Europe, Britain’s FTSE 100 declined 0.4% to 7,402 and the CAC 40 in Paris gave up 0.3% to 5,908. Germany’s DAX declined 0.4% to 13,235. U.S. futures were modestly lower, with the contracts for both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 losing 0.3% and 0.2%.
New tariffs are set to kick in on many Chinese-made products as of Dec. 15 and negotiators have said they might soon have a preliminary deal that could avert that move. Beijing reacted with fury to Trump’s announcement that he was signing the Hong Kong human rights bill. But the legislation got nearly unanimous approval by both houses of Congress and his decision was not unexpected.
After its initial reaction, the Chinese government did not say what specific countermeasures it might take. It has stayed silent on the issue of whether the U.S. move, viewed as meddling in internal Chinese affairs, might derail the trade talks.
In energy trading, Brent crude oil, the international standard, fell 78 cents to $63.14 per barrel.