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James Hyerczyk
Asia-Pacific Shares

The major Asia-Pacific stock indexes finished mixed but mostly lower on Friday after U.S. President Donald Trump ratcheted up already-heightened tensions with Beijing by banning U.S. transactions with two popular Chinese apps, Tencent’s We Chat and ByteDance’s Tiktok. Meanwhile, China’s trade data showed an export surge.

In the cash market on Friday, Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index settled at 22329.94, down 88.21 or -0.39%. South Korea’s KOSPI Index finished at 2351.67, up 9.06 or +0.39% and Hong Kong Hang Seng Index closed at 24504.48, down 426.10 or -1.71%.

In China, the Shanghai Composite settled at 3354.04, down 32.43 or -0.96% and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 index finished at 6004.80, down 37.40 or -0.62%.

Trump Takes Aim at China Tech Firms

Trump issued the executive orders to ban U.S. transactions with two popular Chinese apps after his administration said this week it was stepping up efforts to purge “untrusted” Chinese apps from U.S. digital networks and called TikTok and WeChat “significant threats.”

Some analysts looked at the move as the start of an information technology war.

“Perhaps China could block Apple or Microsoft from China. The information sector growingly looks divided into two camps. We could be seeing just the beginning of an information technology war,” said Nana Otsuki, chief analyst at Monex Securities.

“Investors in the West would have to hesitate to invest in China, missing growth opportunities there when there are not many investment opportunities except perhaps for Nasdaq.”

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China July Exports Rise at Fastest Pace in Seven Months, but Imports Fall

China’s exports rose at the fastest pace in seven months in July, while imports declined, painting a mixed picture for the economy as it recovers from its pandemic-induced slump.

Exports in July increased 7.2% from a year earlier, the fastest pace since December last year, customs data showed on Friday, confounding analysts’ expectations for a 0.2% drop and quickening from a 0.5% increase in June.

Imports, on the other hand, swung back into contraction, missing market expectations for a 1.0% increase. They had bucked the trend in the previous month.

South Korean Shares Rise Ahead of US Jobs Data; US-China Tensions Weigh

South Korean shares ended higher on Friday, ahead of the release of U.S. jobs data, although sentiment was dampened by the Trump administration’s move to ban U.S. transactions with Chinese-owned apps WeChat and TikTok.

Shares of Korean Air Lines Co. Ltd. surged as much as 16% to a two-month high after the company reported better-than-expected quarterly numbers.

For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.
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