(RTTNews.com) - Asian stock markets are in negative territory on Monday amid an escalation in trade tensions between the U.S. and China after the world's two largest economies announced tit-for-tat trade tariffs last week. In addition, weak commodity prices weighed on resources stocks. Crude oil prices extended losses in Asian trading after falling sharply on Friday.
The Australian market is edging lower following the weak cues from Wall Street after an escalation in trade tensions between the U.S. and China as well as on weak commodity prices.
In late-morning trades, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is down 4.60 points or 0.08 percent to 6,089.40, off a low of 6,085.30 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is declining 5.10 points or 0.08 percent to 6,200.20.
In the banking space, National Australia Bank, ANZ Banking, Commonwealth Bank and Westpac are higher in a range of 0.4 percent to 0.7 percent.
Among the major miners, BHP Billiton is losing more than 2 percent, Rio Tinto is down almost 2 percent and Fortescue Metals is declining more than 1 percent.
South32 has made a $1.3 billion bid to take sole ownership of U.S.-focused Canadian miner Arizona Mining. Shares of South32 are down almost 3 percent.
Shares in junior miner Atlas Iron are in a trading halt ahead of an expected announcement "regarding a control transaction proposal".
Gold miners Evolution Mining and Newcrest Mining are lower by more than 1 percent each after gold prices tumbled to three-week lows on Friday.
Oil stocks are also weak after crude oil prices fell on Friday. Santos, Oil Search and Woodside Petroleum are all lower by more than 1 percent each.
In the currency market, the Australian dollar is lower against the U.S. dollar on Monday amid the escalation in U.S.-China trade tensions. The local unit was trading at US$0.7443, down from US$0.7457 on Friday.
The Japanese market is declining after the U.S. and China announced plans to impose trade tariffs on each other. Investors also digested Japan's trade data for May that showed a wider than expected trade deficit.
In late-morning trades, the benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is losing 144.05 points or 0.63 percent to 22,707.70, off a low of 22,680.24 earlier.
Among the major exporters, Panasonic and Mitsubishi Electric are down more than 2 percent each, while Canon and Sony are lower by more than 1 percent each. Automaker Toyota is adding 0.5 percent, while Honda is losing 0.6 percent.
In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is down almost 1 percent and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is declining 1 percent.
Among oil stocks, Inpex is lower by 2 percent and Japan Petroleum Exploration is losing almost 4 percent after crude oil prices tumbled on Friday.
Among the market's best performers, Sumitomo Osaka Cement, Toho Co. and Shiseido Co. are all rising more than 1 percent each.
On the flip side, Mitsui E&S Holdings is losing more than 5 percent, Mitsui OSK Lines is down more than 4 percent and Kubota Corp. is declining almost 4 percent.
In economic news, the Ministry of Finance said that Japan posed a merchandise trade shortfall of 578.321 billion yen in May. That missed expectations for a shortfall of 205.2 billion yen following the downwardly revised 624.6 billion yen surplus in April.
Exports climbed 8.1 percent on year to 6.323 trillion yen, exceeding forecasts for 7.5 percent and up from 7.8 percent in the previous month. Imports soared an annual 14.0 percent to 6.901 trillion yen versus forecasts for 8.0 percent and up from 5.9 percent a month earlier.
In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the mid 110 yen-range on Monday.
Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea, Singapore, New Zealand and Malaysia are also lower. The markets in Taiwan, China and Hong Kong are closed on Monday for the Dragon Boat Festival.
On Wall Street, stocks closed lower on Friday amid renewed trade war concerns after President Donald Trump announced plans to impose a 25 percent tariff on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods that contain "industrially significant technologies." In retaliation, China announced new tariffs on 545 products imported from U.S., including agricultural products, vehicles and aquatic products.
The Dow fell 84.83 points or 0.3 percent to 25,090.48, the Nasdaq dipped 14.66 points or 0.2 percent to 7,746.38 and the S&P 500 edged down 3.07 points or 0.1 percent at 2,779.42.
The European markets also closed lower on Friday. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index plunged by 1.7 percent, the German DAX Index and the French CAC 40 Index dropped by 0.7 percent and 0.5 percent, respectively.
Crude oil futures tumbled Friday, hitting fresh two-week lows amid expectations OPEC will ramp up demand. July WTI oil fell $1.83 or 2.7 percent to settle at $65.06 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. In Asian trading, crude oil further declined $1.25 or 1.92 percent to $63.81.
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