Asia Markets: Asian markets slip ahead of Chinese trade data

Asian markets retreated in early trading Friday, as traders awaited data on China’s trade for January.

Import and export data are expected later Friday, and investors will be looking for signs of improvement since the signing of the “phase one” trade deal signed in January by the U.S. and China.

Meanwhile, traders kept an eye on the growing coronavirus outbreak, which has now infected more than 31,000 people and killed at least 636.

Japan’s Nikkei NIK, -0.19% slipped 0.2%, and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index HSI, -0.33% dipped 0.8%. The Shanghai Composite SHCOMP, +0.33% fell 0.6%, about the same as the smaller-cap Shenzhen Composite 399106, +0.52% . South Korea’s Kospi 180721, -0.72% dropped 1%, while benchmark indexes in Taiwan Y9999, -1.16% , Singapore STI, -1.55% , Malaysia FBMKLCI, +0.11% and Indonesia JAKIDX, +0.21% were mixed. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 XJO, -0.38% declined 0.6%.

Among individual stocks, SoftBank 9984, +7.13% surged in Tokyo trading. Subaru 7270, +1.66% and Olympus 7733, +9.90% also gained, while Honda 7267, -2.71% fell. In Hong Kong, Wharf Real Estate 1997, +1.34% gained, while Sunny Optical 2382, -3.59% , CNOOC 883, -2.70% and AIA Group 1299, -1.05% fell. Samsung 005930, -1.15% and SK Hynix 000660, -1.19% declined in South Korea. Hon Hai Precision 2317, -0.84% dipped in Taiwan, while Beach Energy BPT, -4.03% and BHP BHP, -1.95% slid in Australia.

“Asian markets are forging their own path this morning with equities heading lower across the region, in contrast with yet another healthy day on Wall Street,” wrote Jeffrey Halley, senior Asia-Pacific market strategist for Oanda, in a note. “Ahead of the critical U.S. non-farm payroll data, China trade numbers and with Wuhan corona virus infections and deaths still climbing, booking profits and risk reduction ahead of the weekend appear to be the order of the day.”

U.S. stocks rose Thursday, touching new records, after the market got another shot of confidence from promised tariff reductions from China.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.30% closed up 88.92 points, or 0.3%, to settle at 29,379.77, after carving out a intraday record at 29,408.05. The S&P 500 index SPX, +0.33% rose 11.09 points, or 0.3% to settle at 3,345.78. The Nasdaq Composite Index COMP, +0.67% advanced 63.47 points, or 0.7% to settle at 9,572.15. All three indexes closed at new records.

Oil prices continued to gain, with the price of a barrel of West Texas Intermediate crude for March delivery CLH20, +0.24% rose 31 cents, or 0.6%, to $51.26. April Brent crude BRNJ20, +0.40% , the global benchmark, gained 37 cents, or 0.7%, to $55.30.

The dollar USDJPY, -0.12% dipped to 109.90 Japanese yen.