Asia counts down to US-China tariffs; markets mixed

A woman walks past a bank electronic board showing the Hong Kong share index at Hong Kong Stock Exchange Wednesday, July 4, 2018. Asian shares were moderately lower on Wednesday after U.S. stocks succumbed to a sell-off in the final minutes of trading, snapping a three-day winning streak. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
People walk past a bank electronic board showing the Hong Kong share index at Hong Kong Stock Exchange Wednesday, July 4, 2018. Asian shares were moderately lower on Wednesday after U.S. stocks succumbed to a sell-off in the final minutes of trading, snapping a three-day winning streak. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
People walk past a bank electronic board showing the Hong Kong share index at Hong Kong Stock Exchange Wednesday, July 4, 2018. Asian shares were moderately lower on Wednesday after U.S. stocks succumbed to a sell-off in the final minutes of trading, snapping a three-day winning streak. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

SINGAPORE — Asian markets are mixed as the U.S. prepares to impose billions of dollars of tariffs on China, raising tensions between the world's two largest economies. Trading was subdued on Thursday in the absence of leads from Wall Street with markets closed for the Independence Day holiday.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan's Nikkei 225 index fell 0.8 percent to 21,544.54 and the Shanghai Composite index dropped 0.9 percent to 2,734.77. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index tumbled 0.9 percent to 27,995.08 and the Kospi in South Korea lost 0.8 percent to 2,247.43. Australia's S&P ASX/200 added 0.4 percent to 6,210.60. Shares fell in Taiwan and Southeast Asian indexes were mixed.

US-CHINA TARIFFS: On Friday, the U.S. is set to impose a 25 percent tariff on $34 billion worth of Chinese imports. China has said that it won't make the first move. But it is expected to retaliate with a similar amount of tariffs on American goods, including soybeans, electric cars and whiskey. The Trump administration said it won't target an additional $16 billion worth of Chinese goods until it gathers further public comments.

ANALYST'S TAKE: "We are now two steps removed from the worries of trade tensions as the tariffs deadline looms, locking equity markets in a lackluster trading tone," said Jingyi Pan of IG.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude dropped 31 cents to $73.83 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract settled at $74.14 a barrel on Tuesday, after ticking up to over $75 a barrel in early trading. Brent crude, used to price international oils, shed 57 cents to $77.67 per barrel.

CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 110.35 yen from 110.51 yen on Wednesday. The euro rose to $1.1662 from $1.1641.

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