Asia stocks lower as U.S.-China tech tensions rise; Chinese August trade data expected

SINGAPORE — Asia markets edged lower in Monday morning trade as tech tensions between Washington and Beijing escalate.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 shed 0.47% in early trade while the Topix index declined 0.17%. South Korea’s Kospi was flat.

Over in Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 traded 0.7% lower.

Overall, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index was little changed.

Investors will watch shares of Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC), China’s largest manufacturer of semiconductors, after a Defense Department spokesperson said the Trump administration is considering imposing export restrictions on the firm.

SMIC is seen as an important player in China’s ambition to grow its domestic semiconductor industry. The potential move by Washington, first reported by Reuters, would mark a major escalation in the tech battle between the U.S. and China.

On the economic data front, China’s trade data for August is expected to be released at around 11:00 a.m. HK/SIN.

Oil prices drop

Oil prices fell in the morning of Asian trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures down 2.04% to $41.79 per barrel. U.S. crude futures dropped 2.14% to $38.92 per barrel.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 92.867 after its ascent last week from levels below 92.0.

The Japanese yen traded at 106.26 per dollar after weakening last week from levels below 105.6 against the greenback. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7284 after last week’s slip from levels above $0.732.

Here’s a look at what’s on tap:

  • China: Trade data for August at 11:00 a.m. HK/SIN