Hong Kong Stocks Slide, Tokyo Market Tanks 4.5%

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2018-03-23 HKT 10:00

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  • The Hong Kong stock index had dipped below 30,000 mark at one point. Photo: AP

    The Hong Kong stock index had dipped below 30,000 mark at one point. Photo: AP

Hong Kong stocks tanked as fears of a trade war roiled Asian markets and sent the US dollar wobbling on Friday after Beijing retaliated against the Trump administration's tariff hikes by threatening import duties on US goods.

The Hang Seng which pared some losses earlier in the day, again resumed its slide by late afternoon, losing 3 percent, to 30,139.

On the mainland, the Shanghai Composite Index closed 3.4 percent lower, at 3,152 while the Shenzhen Composite Index fell 4.5 percent, to 1,766.

The losses in the region were lead by Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index, which plunged 4.5 percent to 20,617.

South Korea's Kospi tumbled 3.2 percent to 2,416 and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 skidded 2 percent to 5,820. Benchmarks in Taiwan and Southeast Asia also fell.

Trump announced levies on up to US$60 billion of imports from China for what he describes as the "theft" of American intellectual property, fuelling speculation that a strong recovery in the world economy could be thrown off course.

China responded immediately by saying it was "not afraid of a trade war", while it also released a list of potential tariffs on US$3 billion worth of US goods, from pork to fruits and wine.

The greenback fell below 105 yen for the first time since Trump was elected president in November 2016, while it was also down against the euro and pound.

Analysts said the traders were spooked by the fact China is the biggest buyer of Treasuries, which the US needs to keep its economic wheels greased.

Adding to the uncertainty was news that Trump's national security adviser HR McMaster – seen as a moderating hand in the administration – had stepped aside and been replaced by nationalist John Bolton.

And the departure of John Dowd, a top lawyer on Trump's team in the Russia probe, has also been highlighted as another sign of uncertainty on Pennsylvania Avenue. (AFP)

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Last updated: 2018-03-23 HKT 16:05