Asia Mixed, Japan Lower on Passage of NAFTA – Baystreet.ca

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Major Asia stocks declined by the close on Friday, as U.S. markets broke a new record, with positive news on the trade front further boosting sentiment.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 dropped 48.22 points, or 0.3%, to 23,816.63. The country’s core consumer inflation rose 0.5% in November from a year earlier, according to government data on Friday — still far from its elusive 2% target.

Positive trade news further boosted sentiment, after a new North American trade deal was passed in the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday. The deal is expected to be approved by the Senate next year. The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement replaces the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

But Japanese autos took a tumble in response. The new deal included a requirement that 75% of auto parts come from North America, up from the previous 62.5% required by NAFTA.

While those rules are aimed at substantial increases in domestic production, that’s likely to hit automakers in Japan. Many Japanese automakers have production bases in Mexico. They manufacture cars and trucks in the North American nation for export, according to data from Mexico’s auto industry association AMIA.

Toyota tumbled 1.1%, Nissan lost 1.1%, while Mazda declined 0.8%, and Suzuki pared some losses to tumble 0.8%. Mitsubishi was down 1%.

The Japanese yen traded at 109.26 against the U.S. dollar, strengthening from levels above 109.5 earlier.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index regained 70.86 points, or 0.3%, to 27,871.35.

Macao gaming stocks listed in Hong Kong were in focus on Friday. Galaxy Entertainment dropped 2.5%, Wynn Macau fell 1.3%, and Sands China lost 1.5%.

Australian markets were flat. The Australian dollar last changed hands at $0.6888, strengthening after much stronger-than-expected jobs data on Thursday. It was hovering around levels of 0.685 earlier.

CHINA

In Shanghai, the CSI 300 slid 9.9 points, or 0.3%, to 4,017.25

China on Friday left its new lending benchmark — the loan prime rate — unchanged, as expected, after it kept rates of medium-term loans steady earlier this month.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, at a Friday ceremony to mark the 20th anniversary of Macao’s handover, encouraged the diversification of its casino-dependent economy. Officials have been expecting measures to include a new yuan-denominated stock exchange.

In other markets

In Taiwan, the Taiex dropped 59.82 points, or 0.5%, to 11,959.08

In Korea, the Kospi inched higher 7.62 points, or 0.4%, to 2,204.18

In Singapore, the Straits Times Index restocked 4.97 points, or 0.2%, to 3,212.39

In New Zealand, the NZX added 1.68 points to 11,482.29

In Australia, the ASX 200 moved lower 16.79 points, or 0.3%, to 6,816.32