Asian stocks drop as Trump's Brazil, Argentina tariffs revive trade angst

Asian shares fell on Tuesday after US President Donald Trump stunned the markets by imposing tariffs on imports from Brazil and Argentina, rekindling fears over global trade tensions, while weak US factory data added to the investor gloom.

But European shares, which had also slumped following Trump’s tariff announcement, were expected to rise on Tuesday.

The pan-region Euro Stoxx 50 futures were up 0.41 per cent in early trades, while German DAX futures added 0.45 per cent and the FTSE futures gained 0.26 per cent.

US S&P 500 e-mini stock futures also pointed higher, rising 0.2 per cent to 3,120.5.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down 0.43 per cent as Australian shares recorded their worst day in two months with a 2.2 per cent drop. Japan’s Nikkei shed 0.64 per cent.

But some Asian indexes rebounded in afternoon trade from their session lows.

China’s blue-chip CSI300 index fell as much as 0.62 per cent before clawing back to register small gains. The Shanghai Composite Index was down 0.08 per cent after earlier hitting its lowest point since August 26.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index was 0.24 per cent lower after earlier falling as much as 1.44 per cent.

In tweets on Monday, Trump said he would impose tariffs on steel and aluminium imports from Brazil and Argentina, attacking what he saw as both countries’ “massive devaluation of their currencies.”

Contrary to his remarks, both Brazil and Argentina have been trying to strengthen their respective currencies against the dollar.

Steven Daghlian, market analyst at CommSec in Sydney, said while the South American tariffs dominated market worries on Tuesday, China’s response to US support for anti-government protesters in Hong Kong has also chilled sentiment.

“Markets are extremely sensitive to any good or bad news on the US-China dispute front, but also the US relationship with other nations as well,”

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