Asian stocks were mixed in early trading Monday as traders kicked off a new month and quarter.
The Nikkei NIK, -1.28% lagged early, dropping 0.3% as automakers such as Honda 7267, -1.05% and Nissan 7201, -1.44% dropped some 1% on President Donald Trump’s weekend auto-tariff talk. South Korea’s Hyundai 005380, -1.99% was down similarly, and the Kospi index SEU, -1.68% was essentially flat along with Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 XJO, -0.09% . New Zealand’s NZX 50 NZ50GR, +0.04% , among the few indexes that didn’t log decent gains Friday, was up 0.3% at midday.
Japanese stocks maintained their early weakness as U.S.-related worries persisted, with a slump in sectors ranging from food to rubber, airlines and retail. But the weakest big-cap was Hitachi Chemical 4217, -4.25% , down 3.5% to 21-month lows after disclosing inappropriate data entries related to lead-acid batteries. Meanwhile, the Bank of Japan’s Tankan business-sentiment report just missed in regards to big manufacturers but was solidly in positive territory. However, it predicted the dollar will weaken to ¥107.26, 3.5 yen below where the greenback currently trades. A stronger yen is a negative for many Japanese firms’ earnings.
In China, both the Shanghai Composite SHCOMP, -1.13% and the Shenzhen Composite 399106, -0.50% slid, as Chinese tariffs on $34 billion in U.S. goods are scheduled to take effect at the end of the week. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index was closed for a holiday.
After logging its biggest gain in nearly 2½ years on Friday, Malaysia’s stock benchmark FBMKLCI, -0.47% was slightly lower to start Monday’s trading. Shares in Taiwan Y9999, -0.26% and Singapore STI, -0.65% also rose in early trading.