Investing.com – Asian equities retreated in morning trade on Wednesday, following overnight weakness in U.S. stocks amid fears of rising U.S. protectionism as President Trump reportedly fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson unexpectedly on Twitter. The news followed the resignation of chief economic adviser Gary Cohn last week.
Meanwhile, reports that the U.S. is planning to impose tariffs on up to $60 billion of Chinese imports were also cited as headwind for equities. U.S. main consumer price index and the core gauge rose 0.2% from January, in line with expectations.
Overnight, the Dow fell 0.7%, the S&P 500 slipped 0.6% and the Nasdaq was down 1.0% at the close.
In China, industrial output rose 7.2% y/y in February, beating the general consensus of 6.2%. Fixed-asset investment also came in higher than expected, jumped 7.9% y/y versus the estimate of 7.0%. Retail sales for the month were marginally softer on the other hand, rising 9.7% compared to the estimated 9.8%. Impacts on the equities seemed to be limited however, with the Shanghai Composite and the Shenzhen Component both trading 0.4% lower by 9:30pm ET. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index fell 1.3%, snapped a 4-day advance.
Meanwhile, Japan's Nikkei was down 1.0% in mid-morning trade. The country’s core machinery orders rose 8.2% y/y in January and beat expectations of a 5.6% increase, a sign that capital spending would continue contributing to economic growth. Automaker Toyota Motor Corp received some focus as it was reportedly planning to raise base monthly salaries by around 1,300 yen ($12.18) starting next month. The increase was less than the 3,000 yen demanded by its union however.
Down under, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 slipped 0.7%. New Zealand GDP data is due Thursday.