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Asian Stocks Fall as Tensions between US & China Rise

Stocks in Asia traded little changed Friday morning as a data release showed China’s industrial output bouncing back more than expected in April.

Mainland Chinese stocks edged higher in morning trade, with the Shanghai composite up fractionally while the Shenzhen composite added 0.234%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index shed 0.23%. In Japan, the Nikkei 225 dipped 0.31% while the Topix index declined 0.32%.

South Korea’s Kospi was largely flat. Shares in Australia saw gains, with the S&P/ASX 200 up 0.79%. Overall, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index traded 0.12% higher.

On the economic data front, China’s industrial output rose 3.9% year-on-year in April, according to data released Friday by the country’s National Bureau of Statistics. That marked the first expansion in the metric for this year from China. Analysts in a Reuters poll had expected industrial output for April to rise 1.5%. Retail sales, however, fell 7.5% in April. That was a larger fall than the 7% decline forecast, according to Reuters.

Data from China has been watched by investors has been watched for signs of where the country, where the first cases of the coronavirus pandemic were reported, has managed to restart its economy following lock-down measures implemented earlier in the year.

Overnight on Wall Street, the  Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 377.37 points higher at 23,625.34 while the S&P 500 ended its trading day 1.15% higher at 2,852.50. The Nasdaq Composite closer 0.9% higher at 8,943.72. Thursday’s moves stateside, however, still left the major averages on track for their worst weekly performance since March 20.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was last at 100.343 after touching levels around 100.5 yesterday.

The Japanese yen traded at 107.30 per dollar after weakening from levels around 106.8 yesterday. The Australian dollar was at $0.6455, off highs above $0.654 seen earlier this week.

Oil prices were higher in the morning of Asian trading hours. The international benchmark Brent crude futures contract added 0.67% to $31.34 per barrel. U.S. crude futures also gained 0.15% to $27.60 per barrel.