Asian markets mostly retreated in trading Friday, as the coronavirus death toll climbed and investors cooled a day after a sharp rally for stocks.
China officials said import and export data that had been expected on Friday, would be delayed and January and February numbers combined. The General Administration of Customs said that was because they wanted to bring the data in line with that of the National Bureau of Statistics, which also planned to combine data to iron out any disruptions from the Lunar New Year holiday.
Stocks surged the prior session after China announced it would halve tariffs on $75 billion in U.S. goods, which triggered optimism over trade talks between the countries.
But traders kept an eye on the growing coronavirus outbreak, which has now infected more than 31,000 people and killed at least 636. Many in China have expressed anger at the government after Li Wenliang, a doctor who had been a whistleblower early on in the coronavirus, died late on Thursday, apparently due to the virus. Meanwhile, Japan reported 41 new coronavirus infections on a quarantined cruiseliner where more than 3,000 people remain.
Japan’s Nikkei /zigman2/quotes/210597971/delayed JP:NIK +1.35% slipped 0.2%, and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index /zigman2/quotes/210598030/delayed HK:HSI +0.24% dipped 0.3%. The Shanghai Composite /zigman2/quotes/210598127/delayed CN:SHCOMP -0.37% bucked the trend with a 0.3% gain, while the smaller-cap Shenzhen Composite /zigman2/quotes/210598015/delayed CN:399106 -0.15% rose 0.5%. South Korea’s Kospi /zigman2/quotes/210598069/delayed KR:180721 +0.46% dropped 0.7%, while benchmark indexes in Taiwan /zigman2/quotes/210597977/delayed TW:Y9999 +1.21% , Singapore /zigman2/quotes/210597985/delayed SG:STI +0.12% , Malaysia /zigman2/quotes/210598052/delayed MY:FBMKLCI +0.22% and Indonesia /zigman2/quotes/210597981/delayed ID:JAKIDX -1.03% were mixed. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 /zigman2/quotes/210598100/delayed AU:XJO +0.31% declined 0.4%.
Among individual stocks, SoftBank /zigman2/quotes/207303954/delayed JP:9984 +1.48% surged in Tokyo trading. Subaru /zigman2/quotes/203522406/delayed JP:7270 -0.31% and Olympus /zigman2/quotes/200860615/delayed JP:7733 +0.44% also gained, while Honda /zigman2/quotes/200490352/delayed JP:7267 +0.40% fell. In Hong Kong, Wharf Real Estate /zigman2/quotes/205885756/delayed HK:1997 +2.21% gained, while Sunny Optical /zigman2/quotes/206687505/delayed HK:2382 +2.29% , CNOOC /zigman2/quotes/203421416/delayed HK:883 -0.10% and AIA Group /zigman2/quotes/203565558/delayed HK:1299 +1.19% fell. Samsung /zigman2/quotes/209800866/delayed KR:005930 +2.03% and SK Hynix /zigman2/quotes/206420319/delayed KR:000660 +2.66% declined in South Korea. Hon Hai Precision /zigman2/quotes/207256514/delayed TW:2317 +1.48% dipped in Taiwan, while Beach Energy /zigman2/quotes/200513631/delayed AU:BPT +2.43% and BHP /zigman2/quotes/201448516/delayed AU:BHP +2.02% 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. nonfarm payroll data, China trade numbers and with Wuhan coronavirus 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 on Thursday, touching new records, after the market got another shot of confidence from promised tariff reductions from China.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA +0.55% 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 /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX +0.75% rose 11.09 points, or 0.3% to settle at 3,345.78. The Nasdaq Composite Index /zigman2/quotes/210598365/realtime COMP +1.13% advanced 63.47 points, or 0.7% to settle at 9,572.15. All three indexes closed at new records.
Oil prices fell, with the price of a barrel of West Texas Intermediate crude for March delivery down 21 cents to $50.75. April Brent crude , the global benchmark, fell 29 cents to $54.79.
The dollar /zigman2/quotes/210561789/realtime/sampled USDJPY -0.3277% dipped to 109.84 Japanese yen.
Barbara Kollmeyer contributed to this article.