Asian markets edged lower on Monday and the safe-haven yen rose on Monday amid fears of a global trade war amid recently announced metals tariffs.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was flat near the lowest since mid-February. Japan’s Nikkei edged up 0.56% in early trade amid firmer yen.
Exporters were mostly lower in the morning, with automakers and technology names coming under pressure. Honda Motor and Toyota were down 1.28% and 0.36%, respectively. Sony shed 0.65% and Nintendo lost 1.11%.
Meanwhile, steel producers extended losses seen in the last session, with JFE Holdings down 2.35%, while retailers clawed back slight gains. Fast Retailing rose 1%.
South Korea’s KOSPI slipped 0.23%, with technology companies trading mixed in early session. Samsung Electronics was down 0.96%, while SK Hynix edging up 0.65%.
Australia's S&P/ASX 200 traded lower by 0.3%. Mining majors BHP and Rio Tinto were down 1.35% and 0.98%, respectively. The country's "Big Four" banks traded in negative territory, with the sector edging down 0.6% in the morning. Westpac declined 0.91%, leading losses in the sector.
In Greater China, the Hang Seng Index shed 0.96%, while on the mainland, the Shanghai Composite Index declined 0.83%. Singapore’s, Straits Times Index was trading 0.13% lower.
In currency news, the euro pared gains as investors worried Italy’s national elections could deliver an anti-establishment government.
It eased back to $1.2320 from a two-week high of $1.2365 amid talk the euroskeptic 5-star party could form a coalition government.
The yen got a lift from safe-haven flows as risk sentiment soured after US President Donald Trump proposed tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, rattling financial markets.
The dollar fell for a fourth straight session to stand at 105.60 yen, but was slightly above Friday’s low of 105.23, a level not seen since November 2016.