Singapore, May 29 (AP/UNB) — Asian shares slipped Wednesday on expectations that a trade dispute between China and the United States would simmer and possibly weigh on growth.
With a lull in economic releases closer to home, investors digested President Donald Trump's comments that the country was "not ready" for a trade deal with China. Trump spoke to reporters in Tokyo on Monday.
Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 gave up 1.1% to 21,020.72. The Kospi in South Korea tumbled 1.3% to 2,021.84 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng was 0.5% lower at 27,267.94.
The Shanghai Composite fell 0.3% to 2,900.71 while Australia's S&P/ASX 200 eased 0.8% to 6,433.30. Stocks fell in Taiwan and Singapore but advanced in Indonesia.
Earlier this month, China and the U.S. concluded their 11th round of trade talks with no agreement. The U.S. has since raised tariffs on Chinese exports, triggering retaliation from China.
The Trump administration has also mounted sanctions on Huawei. But it refrained from labelling China or any other country as a currency manipulator in a report to Congress on Tuesday.
"To some extent, the sparing of China as a currency manipulator had been expected but provides some relief for one watching the U.S.-China trade impasse," Jingyi Pan of IG said in a market commentary.
She added that China's official PMI for May, which will be released on Friday, would be watched an indicator of the initial impact of tariffs on growth.
Over on Wall Street, stocks closed broadly lower as investors who felt jittery about long-term growth shifted money into bonds. The yield on the benchmark 10 year Treasury fell to 2.26%, its lowest level since September 2017.
The broad S&P 500 index slipped 0.8% to 2,802.39 on Tuesday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 0.9% to 25,347.77 and the Nasdaq composite was down 0.4% at 7,607.35. The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks retreated 0.7% to 1,504.02.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude lost 63 cents to $58.51 per barrel. The contract rose 51 cents to $59.14 per barrel on Tuesday. Brent crude, the international standard, fell 57 cents to $68.10 per barrel. It settled 10 cents lower at $68.67 per barrel in the previous session.
CURRENCIES: The dollar strengthened to 109.38 yen from 109.36 yen late Tuesday. The euro jumped to $1.1166 from $1.1161.
Tokyo, May 28 (AP/UNB) — Asian stocks mostly rose in muted trading Tuesday in the absence of major market-driving news on trade negotiations during the visit of President Donald Trump to Japan.
Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 added 0.4% in early trading to 21,274.60, while Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.6% to 6,490.40. South Korea's Kospi was little changed but inched up to 2,045.11. Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.3% to 27,375.16, while the Shanghai Composite rose nearly 0.6% to 2,908.40.
Trump was closing his state visit to Japan, which began Saturday. Market reaction to his comments was muted.
Trump pointed to the U.S.'s continuing "unbelievably large" trade imbalance with Japan, but he also said a trade deal was coming later this year, noting he expects it "sometime into the future."
Markets in the United States were closed Monday for the Memorial Day holiday.
"Against the backdrop of a lack of reaction towards President Donald Trump's words and the vacuum of leads, Asia markets look to trade to its own tune from a mixed but muted start to Tuesday," said Jingyi Pan, market strategist at IG in Singapore.
Stocks rose in Europe on Monday, as pro-EU forces retained a majority in the 28-nation bloc's parliament despite the rise of nationalist parties in a region-wide vote. Britain's exchange remained closed for a bank holiday.
In the European election, far right and populist parties were among the biggest winners, as voters voiced concerns over immigration and security.
Worries about trade friction between the U.S. and China, as well as the friction between the U.S. and Japan, continue to linger.
The 11th round of U.S.-China trade talks ended with no agreement. Instead, the U.S. moved to increase tariffs on Chinese goods, prompting China to reciprocate.
Benchmark U.S. crude rose 55 cents to $59.18 a barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, fell 6 cents to $68.71 per barrel.
The dollar slipped slightly to 109.48 yen from 109.53 yen on Monday. The euro edge down to $1.1182 from $1.1193.
Dhaka, May 25 (UNB)- A business delegation from Hong Kong, the highly prosperous special administrative region of China, visited Bangladesh recently in search of investment opportunities as part of efforts under Xi Jinping’s signature Belt and Road Initiative.
The delegation of Chinese Manufacturers’ Association of Hong Kong concluded their three-day visit, on the invitation of Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA), on Saturday, according to a press release.
BIDA organized a seminar where ‘business match-making’ session at a city hotel in the capital between Bangladeshi companies and businesses from Hong Kong took part aiming to foster a strong business ties between Hong Kong and Bangladesh.
BIDA Executive Chairman Kazi M Aminul Islam said this business trip will open up many opportunities between Hong Kong and Bangladesh.
“Besides manufacturing and export, Bangladesh has great opportunities in its domestic market, which will fully flourish within few years,” said Dr. Dennis W.P. Ng, President of the CMAHK, who led the delegation.
Ng praised the talented and ‘focused’ workforce of Bangladesh, that he witnessed firsthand on a visit to the Chinese-owned Unimas Sportswear factory in Gazipur with journalists from Hong Kong. The amount they can save on labour costs is still thought to be the most potent way to attract foreign investors.
The delegation also held a meeting with Foreign Minister A K Abdul Momen during the stay here, besides other relevant officials.
Tokyo, May 25 (AP/UNB) — When President Donald Trump visits Japan, he'll be able to point to Tokyo's streets to drive home a sore point in trade relations between the allies: the absence of made-in-USA vehicles.
The $70 billion Japanese trade surplus with the U.S. is dwarfed by China's $379 billion surplus, and the trade tensions between Washington and Tokyo are far less contentious than the tariffs war with Beijing.
But the disputes between Japan and the U.S. are longstanding and also intractable: the bilateral agreement with Tokyo that Trump has been seeking since pulling out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement two years ago is still far down the road, say analysts and politicians on both sides.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has carefully courted Trump since before he took office and their cordial, golfing-buddy relationship has helped keep relations on an even keel.
While Trump has complained repeatedly about the trade imbalance, especially in autos and auto parts — the Hondas and Toyotas on U.S. roads are a daily reminder — friction over Japan's exports has not reached the fever pitch it did in the late 1980s, when angry American auto workers smashed Japanese vehicles.
The Trump administration's tough stance on China, including the tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods that recently kicked in, is almost a replay of the "Japan bashing" of decades ago.
To help alleviate tensions, especially over vehicle exports, Japanese automakers have moved much of their production for America to the U.S., investing a cumulative $51 billion and building 24 manufacturing plants, many in areas that have little else to count on to vitalize their economies. Those investments have created some 1.6 million jobs, according to the industry group Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association.
Trade remains unbalanced: In April Japan's exports to the U.S. jumped nearly 10%, while imports of American goods rose 2.3%. Japan's trade surplus surged almost 18% to 723 billion yen ($6.6 billion).
Trump sees today's disputes as a continuation of earlier clashes, said Kristin Vekasi, professor of political science at the University of Maine.
She says current negotiations are unlikely to lead to any "miraculous" opening of Japanese markets for American products. Japanese officials have said they would draw the line at concessions made for the sake of joining the TPP, which had been championed by the administration of Trump's predecessor, Barack Obama.
"Japan already buys a lot from the United States," Vekasi said.
Japan's imports from the U.S. are dominated by food, chemicals, machinery and devices. Cars, not so much.
Detroit-based General Motors Co. sold just 562 Cadillacs, 708 Chevrolets, six Buicks and a handful of its other nameplate brands in Japan in the fiscal year that ended in March. In contrast, Toyota sold 2.3 million of the roughly 5 million vehicles sold in the Japanese market.
Experts generally agree the imbalance reflects a lack of Japanese interest, not significant trade barriers. Trade talks cannot dictate consumer tastes.
The Trump administration has designated auto imports as a threat to U.S. national security, though the government has delayed a decision on raising tariffs on imported cars for six months.
Trump has suggested he will go ahead with the tariffs if U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, a trade talks veteran of the Japan-bashing days, doesn't manage to wrest concessions from Japan and the European Union.
Apart from autos, Washington is worried that American farm products won't get a fair deal, as Japan forges trade pacts with Australia and Europe.
While visiting Japan earlier this month, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue donned an apron and took up barbecue tongs, urging Japan to buy more American beef.
"We're saying treat us as a prime customer the way we treated Japanese products for many years," he said after grilling some beef and pork on a Tokyo shopping mall rooftop.
Perdue returned to Washington with a promise from Japan to eliminate restrictions on U.S. beef exports. The move allows all cattle, regardless of age, to enter Japan for the first time since 2003, when Japan imposed limits to guard against bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE, also known as "mad cow disease."
The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates exports of U.S. beef and beef product could jump by up to $200 million a year, though they do face stiff competition from Australia and China.
Japan still imposes limits on many farm products, seeking to guard its food security and politically important rural constituencies, and Perdue acknowledged that a broader trade deal with Tokyo may take time.
After years of being harangued to open their own markets, Japanese officials and business leaders are ardent proponents of freer trade.
Usually soft-spoken Toyota Chief Executive Akio Toyoda, who chairs the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association, was blunt in expressing outrage over the idea that auto imports pose a security threat worthy of imposing tariffs.
"We are dismayed to hear a message suggesting that our long-time contributions of investment and employment in the United States are not welcomed. As chairman, I am deeply saddened by this decision," he said earlier this week.
"Any trade restrictive measures would deliver a serious blow to the U.S. auto industry and economy, as it would not only disadvantage U.S. consumers, but also adversely affect the global competitiveness of U.S.-produced vehicles and suppress company investments in the U.S."
Las Vegas, May 24 (AP/UNB) — The former head of a Tokyo and Las Vegas investment firm was sentenced Thursday to 50 years in prison for bilking thousands of Japanese victims in what prosecutors called a $1.5 billion international Ponzi scheme that ranks among the largest-ever fraud cases in the U.S.
Defendant Edwin Fujinaga, 72, also was ordered to pay nearly $1.3 billion in restitution to victims, including many vulnerable retirees in Japan who were told they were safely investing in a medical collections business that could earn a 6% to 10% annual return.
Evidence at the trial showed that some lost their life savings while Fujinaga spent lavishly on himself, buying a Las Vegas golf course mansion, private jet, luxury cars and real estate in California wine country, Beverly Hills and Hawaii.
Chief U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro called efforts by Fujinaga to apologize "offensive." She also ordered him to surrender $813 million in assets.
Fujinaga blamed changes in the dollar-to-yen exchange rate for problems while he headed MRI International Inc. for more than a decade. He said he was trying to clean up a corrupt medical accounts payable industry and is now so despondent that he has to take medication.
The judge rejected his explanation and acknowledged that the severity of his crimes approached those of convicted U.S. Ponzi schemers Bernard Madoff in New York, Allen Stanford in Houston and Scott Rothstein in Miami.
In court documents, prosecutors ranked Fujinaga several notches below Madoff, who was sentenced to 150 years in prison for bilking thousands of investors out of at least $20 billion, and Stanford, who is serving 110 years for a scheme involving more than $7 billion.
They put him on par with Rothstein, who is serving 50 years in a $1.2 billion case.
Navarro acknowledged the government could only document $813 million in cash investments in the case because MRI company books were incomplete before 2009.
But she agreed with prosecutor William Johnson, who said MRI had $1.56 billion in outstanding investments when the scheme collapsed in 2013. Johnson said it relied on "new investor money going out to old investors."
"Yes, I made mistakes. I tried to keep it going. I became reckless and people got hurt," Fujinaga said Thursday, standing slightly stooped in blue jail scrubs with thinning, graying hair. He kept his hands on the defense table.
"I humbly apologize to all the people of Japan for all the chaos I caused," he said. "I'm speechless that I can't fix it."
Navarro rejected a bid for leniency from Fujinaga's appointed defense attorneys, who disputed the amount and calculations of investor losses. They also pointed to Fujinaga's age and unspecified medical issues, saying he would have to live to 122 before he could be freed.
The judge reminded Fujinaga that she heard the evidence presented at trial that led jurors in November to find him guilty of 20 counts of mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering.
"It's ridiculous for you to try to say it was all a mistake," Navarro said. "I find it pretty offensive, and I'm sure it's offensive to victims as well."
Two former MRI executives who worked with Fujinaga — Junzo Suzuki, 70, and his son, Paul Suzuki, 40 — were arrested in Japan following Fujinaga's trial and are being held in U.S. custody in Nevada.
They have pleaded not guilty in federal court to criminal fraud charges and face trial in October.