The major Asia-Pacific stock indexes finished lower on Thursday, pressured by concerns over deteriorating U.S.-China relations and the economic cost of a resurgence in coronavirus infections that is prompting some places to reimpose containment measures. Losses may have been contained, however, by a slew of Chinese economic data including a better-than-expected GDP report.
On Thursday, Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index settled at 22770.36, down 175.14 or -0.76%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index finished at 24970.69, down 510.89 or -2.00 or South Korea’s KOSPI Index closed at 2183.76, down 18.12 or -0.82%.
China’s Shanghai index settled at 3210.10, down 151.21 or -4.50% and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index finished at 6010.90, down 42.00 or -0.69%.
US Imposes Visa Restrictions on Huawei, Other Chinese Tech Companies, Citing Human Rights Abuses
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, citing human rights abuses, said the U.S. will impose visa restrictions on Chinese technology firms, the latest move expected to strain relations between Washington and Beijing.
Pompeo, who has previously described Huawei and other Chinese state-backed businesses as “Trojan horses for Chinese intelligence,” said the actions should serve as a warning for other tech companies.
“State Department will impose visa restrictions on certain employees of Chinese tech companies like Huawei, that provide material support to regimes engaging in human rights violations and abuses globally,” Pompeo said.
In a statement to CNBC, Huawei said it was “disappointed by this unfair and arbitrary action.” The company also said it “operates independent of the Chinese government” and is a “private, employee-owned firm.”
Shares of China’s Biggest Chipmaker SMIC Surge Nearly 202% in Shanghai Debut
SMIC, China’s biggest chipmaker, saw its shares surge over 200% on its first day of trade in Shanghai. SMIC issued 1,685,620,000 shares at 27.46 Yuan per share, raising 46.28 billion Yuan ($6.62 billion).
The share sale is an important moment for the company but also China’s broader ambition to grow its domestic semiconductor industry, a push that has been accelerated by the trade war between the U.S. and China.
SMIC is seen as a key player in China’s ambition to boost its domestic chip industry. The company is known as a contract chip manufacturer, meaning it makes the semiconductors designed by other firms.
South Korea’s Central Bank Holds Rates at Record Low amid Push to Curb Home Price Surge
The Bank of Korea has held the base rate steady at a record low of 0.5%, it announced in a text message, in line with the forecasts of all 30 economists polled by Reuters.
The rate is at its lowest since the central bank adopted the current system in 1999, having slashed a total of 75 basis points since March this year to fight the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.
The central bank has been working in tandem with the government to extend liquidity to businesses hit by the health crisis but is wary of rising debt and high property prices.
For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.