SE Asia stocks fall as China, US start new round of tariffs

SE Asia stocks fall as China, US start new round of tariffs

People stand in front of an electronic stock board of a securities firm in Tokyo, April 17, 2019. (AP file photo)
People stand in front of an electronic stock board of a securities firm in Tokyo, April 17, 2019. (AP file photo)

Southeast Asian stock markets fell on Monday, led by Singapore, as the imposition of further tariffs by Washington and Beijing hammered investor sentiment, bucking the optimism stemming from a surprise expansion in China's factory activity in August.

The United States started imposing 15% tariffs on more than $125 billion in Chinese imports on Sept 1, while China retaliated by imposing new duties on US crude, further escalating a protracted trade war that has damaged financial markets.

"The commencement of the latest round of Trump tariffs on China will not be the main act today. The ongoing impact of the trade war on Asia and global growth though will be," an OANDA note said.

Meanwhile, China's factory activity unexpectedly expanded in August with the Caixin/Markit Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) rising to a five-month high of 50.4, after two months of contraction.

The Stock Exchange of Thailand index was down a modest 2.07 at 1,652.85, a fall of 0.12%, at 11.56am. Thailand's annual headline consumer price index in August rose 0.52% from a year earlier, compared with a Reuters poll estimate of a 0.85% rise.

Leading declines in the region, the benchmark index in Singapore, one of the most exposed markets to the prolonged trade war, dipped 0.8%. Industrial stocks weighed heavily on the index, with shares of index heavyweight Jardine Matheson Holdings Ltd falling as much as 3.4%.

Consumer and financial stocks dragged the Indonesian benchmark index 0.7% lower. The country's annual inflation data is set to be released later today. Indonesia's consumer price index likely rose 3.54% in August from a year earlier, compared with July's 3.32%, according to a Reuters poll. Shares of Bank Central Asia Tbk Pt and Unilever Indonesia Tbk Pt dropped 1.5% each.

Meanwhile, Indonesia's Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Ignasius Jonan said he has signed a new regulation on restricting ore exports, and stated that nickel ore exports will be allowed until end-December.

This move has in turn helped Philippine nickel miners who are expected to boost ore production next year. The Philippine index dropped 0.6%, on track to snap three straight sessions of gains, with telecom stocks contributing to most of the losses. Globe telecom Inc and PLDT Inc dropped 2.1% and 2%, respectively.

Financial markets in Malaysia and Vietnam are closed for a holiday.

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